Reader Question: Long-Term EV Storage?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Jerry asks:  I haven’t yet heard mention of long term storage of vehicles. I have what was once my father’s Chevy. Since he passed several years ago it’s been stored in a garage. Keeping it as a backup if I should need to replace my present vehicle. Every summer I put in a battery and start it up. Turn the key and it fires right up, no problem. Try to do that with an EV. During my 55 years of working in the electrical field involved a lot of battery work, different than those used in EV and power tools. But all batteries have similar characteristics. They take a lot of maintenance, are expensive and have a limited lifespan. I fully expect there will be a revolt against EVs in a decade or two.

My reply: You bring up yet another problem with electric cars that isn’t a problem with non-electric cars.

An engine can be left for months – years – without being started and will be ready to start at any time. Of course, it’s a good idea to drain the gas from the fuel system and maybe spray some WD-40 into the cylinders prior to storage. But the point is, you can “mothball” a non-electric car for a long time without much effort and without much risk that it won’t work again when you un-mothball it.

Battery storage is different. Think about an ordinary 12V battery – the kind used to start a regular car or other equipment. If you just leave it sitting – and connected to any power draw, however slight – it will be a dead battery after a time. It must either be disconnected from any potential power drain or kept connected to a maintenance charger. My bet is the same applies to electric car batteries. As a practical matter, this likely means having to keep the stored EV hooked up to a household outlet – unless there’s a practical way to disconnect the battery).

And – as regards most EVs – you cannot disconnect the battery because its temperature has to be maintained within a certain spectrum, not too hot – and not too cold. Else it will potentially “brick” – or spontaneously combust. This is why most EVs have internal heating/cooling systems for the battery… that must be kept powered.

That means constant charging/maintenance during storage. You cannot just put an EV out on the barn for the next five or ten years. Or even six months.

And if the battery does “brick” then you have the equivalent – in cost – of having to replace a non-electric car’s drivetrain.

I’d bet further that the rest of the EV – its complex electrical system – do not store well, either. These things are also software (“update”) dependent. What is the useful life of a smartphone or computer, even if the battery is in good  shape? Once it is “no longer supported,” it is useless.

EVs are fundamentally the same. They are “the latest thing” when new but their tech ages very quickly. A 15 or 20 year-old EV seems improbable to me – except as lawn sculpture.

I guess we’ll see!

. . .

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  1. A re-volt against electric cars – I love it!

    Watts the matter with the current generation? I would have expected more resistance.


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