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Zużyta bateria samochodu elektrycznego

The used battery meter: how to verify the condition of a used electric car

According to the Polish Automotive Industry Association and the Polish Alternative Fuels Association, we have a total of 77 thousand electric cars in Poland. We have to pay a minimum of 100 000 zlotys for a new electric car, and only 9% of Poles can afford such an expense. However, there is an alternative – used electric cars, which start upwards of 30 000 zlotys. Here’s a practical guide to help you understand how to check the condition of the battery in a used electric car.  

How electric vehicles work

Electric cars differ from combustion vehicles mainly in the type of drive. Instead of a combustion engine, they have an electric car battery that powers the electric motor. It is a much more efficient and environmentally-friendly way to generate energy. Thanks to this, charging costs are lower than those for maintaining a traditional vehicle. In theory, electric cars are also more eco-friendly than internal combustion vehicles. At least considering the degree of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere while driving a car. 

Battery life in electric cars

Most electric car manufacturers offer a battery warranty of 8 years (or 160 000 km). During this period, the capacity of the electric car battery is expected to not fall below 70% of the factory value. Unfortunately, over time, battery life decreases, leading to a gradual reduction in its performance. The actual battery life in electric cars depends mainly on:

  • the number of charging cycles
  • the type of electric car charger
  • how the vehicle is used
  • the conditions in which the car is garaged
  • the quality of the battery

How to charge an electric car and how much it costs

When it comes to charging electric cars, there are several ways to do it. There are mobile electric car chargers, electric car charging stations and the option to charge at home using a traditional network. An electric car can also be charged with a diesel power generator. Some people decide to install high-power fast chargers at home, but this involves quite high investment costs. 

Electric car charging costs

The cost of charging an electric car depends on electricity prices and is generally lower by about 40-50% than the cost of refueling with petrol. This number can be improved if we have an efficient photovoltaic installation or an energy bank. The average cost of driving an electric car is PLN 0.20-30 for each kilometer driven. The costs of charging an electric car may vary depending on the station and the type of charger, but the average cost of charging an electric car in Poland oscillates around a few zlotys per kWh.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The charging time for an electric car depends on the power of the charger and the condition of the battery. For example, charging a Tesla with a Supercharger takes up to 60 minutes. While with network charging at home, the charging time can be extended up to 14 hours. At least that’s what the manufacturer has indicated. In fact, it can take up to 30 hours to charge a 50kWh battery from a conventional outlet. This is a huge gap compared to what we are used to with combustion cars, which take only a few minutes to refuel at a gas station.

Replacing and disposing of batteries in electric cars is a considerable cost

Nothing lasts forever. Electric car batteries lose their efficiency quite quickly. Thus, sometimes we are forced to cover the considerable costs associated with replacing the battery in an electric car. The cost of a battery for an electric car ranges from a few to even tens of thousands of zlotys. What’s more, the instability and problems associated with the disposal of used batteries for electric cars are one of the greatest technological challenges that our civilization has to face. Battery disposal is expensive and difficult. The emphasis on the development of electric units is dictated by environmental considerations. However, it is possible we will see completely different results in the long run.

How to check the condition of the battery in a used car

Before buying a used electric car, pay attention to the condition of the battery. Are you wondering how to do it? There are several solutions at your disposal.·        

  • test yourself – fully charge the battery, drive until it is fully discharged and compare the achieved range with the manufacturer’s indications·        
  • diagnostic tests – objective methods of checking the battery capacity percentage by specialists·        
  • manufacturer’s certificate – some manufacturers offer to check the condition of the battery and issue a certificate of capacity

Remember that an electric vehicle’s range is strongly dependent on the selected driving mode. The projected range provided by the car’s internal software should be approached with great caution. It is best to assess the range yourself, driving the car until it discharges under regular conditions.

Is it worth buying a used electric car?

The answer to this question is complex. If we decide to buy an electric vehicle, we should pay attention to the condition of the battery. Despite some disadvantages and paradoxes of using electric cars in Poland, they are gaining more and more popularity. Electromobility is the inevitable future. However, like any technology, it has its challenges and limitations. It is crucial to assess the condition of a used electric car battery to avoid the high cost of disposing of the old battery and replacing it with a new one.