Opportunities for garages with the EV 12-volt battery

The EV 12-volt battery is one of the main causes of electric vehicle breakdown, with Ecobat Battery revealing the reasons as to why this is the case. 

Carmakers are increasing the number of EVs they add to their ranges. Whether this is with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully-electric powertrains, each of these have a common component. Sitting alongside the powerful 48-volt, 350-volt or 400-volt power units is a traditional battery, which helps to power the ancillary equipment. 

This EV 12-volt battery is as standard as those found in pure petrol and diesel cars. While the electric powertrain system can handle the high-voltage provided by lithium-ion cells, not all of it can be powered by the drive system. 

The smaller units help to power both internal and external lighting, as well as the central locking, alarm, and other security features. It also powers the vehicles onboard computer and diagnostic systems and plays a role in starting the main high-voltage battery pack.

These systems put significant load on the EV 12-volt battery. In vehicles incorporating an internal-combustion engine, after providing a big burst of electrical energy to power the starter motor the battery is recharged by an alternator and managed by the vehicle’s electronic control units (ECU), a process that has been refined over many years.

However, for an EV 12-volt battery, the unit is performing a much more cyclic function, being charged by the high voltage battery, and discharged by the 12-volt systems that rely on it.

Compromise on EV 12-volt battery

Irrespective of whether the vehicle is battery-electric, or a hybrid variant, the maintenance of the EV 12-volt battery is down to the parameters set in the ECU’s battery management system. According to Ecobat Battery, this is where there is a potential conflict of interest.  

It is well known that discharging a standard 12-volt SLI (starter, ignition & lighting) battery beyond 50% will reduce its life expectancy. However, largely because range anxiety is one of the key barriers to EV uptake, vehicle manufacturers want to maximise the range capability that they can offer drivers. 

To do this, the battery management system has to make a compromise between charging the EV 12-volt battery to keep it in top condition, or providing for the vehicle’s optimum range, which can result in an undercharged 12-volt battery, affecting its useable life.

A further impact on the life of the EV 12-volt battery comes with the advanced technology inbuilt into an electric vehicle. Its inherent connectivity and the plethora of apps it can run, such as to remotely ’wake it up’ and activate the 12-volt system, for example, can require 5,000 activations per day, which can seriously discharge the unit and leave the driver with a lifeless car.

Opportunities for workshops

Although carmakers work hard to update their systems when they find these issues, in the meantime they provide a welcome opportunity for the aftermarket because, despite many workshops being wary of working on EVs, it should be encouraging for them to know that the most likely cause of a breakdown, is due to one of the components that they are most familiar with.

Therefore, before surrendering an EV to the franchised dealer network, workshops should first assess the condition of the EV 12-volt battery and if that is the issue, providing they use the correct protocols for working on a high-voltage vehicle, installing a replacement not only solves a problem for the owner, but it also makes a profitable job for the business.

According to the latest car parc data from the SMMT, there were around 2.4 million hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and full-electric vehicles on the roads in the UK at the end of 2022. Last year, almost 700,000 registrations in the UK came from these powertrains, meaning around 3.1 million EVs with 12-volt batteries that may need replacing sooner rather than later.

In addition, carmakers are increasing the number of EVs they offer, especially battery-electric vehicles, as they look to reduce their impact on the environment and meet government targets. This means more and more vehicles on the road that could face problems with the EV 12-volt battery. 

As a result of its findings and to further assist the independent service and repair sector, Ecobat Battery has proactively updated its application data on its online Battery Finder, as well as its Numax and Lucas data on MAM Autocat, to provide all the necessary application links to these vehicles.

For further details, please visit Ecobat Battery at: www.ecobatbattery.com

Related Posts