Explore the Importance of Maintaining Electric Vehicles
Maintaining Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are a hot topic, on many of our radars and despite increasing buzz, there are still many questions surrounding them. Since EVs are drastically different mechanically from internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles, understanding how to maintain EVs is an important consideration when considering the adoption and integration into an existing fleet.
Service Intervals - The cost of routine maintenance can make electric vehicles appealing and a great fit for some fleets. When comparing electric and gas-powered vehicles, scheduled maintenance between the two is vastly different, with electric vehicles having significantly fewer scheduled services.
By the time the average gasoline-powered truck reaches its first 100,000 miles, it will likely have needed/received the following maintenance services:
- 13 Oil changes
- 13 Tire rotations
- 5 Cabin filters
- 3 Engine filters
- 3 Differential services
- 3 Transfer case services
- Spark plug replacement
By comparison, an electric vehicle will have needed/ received the following maintenance services upon reaching their first 100,000 miles:
- 10 Tire rotations
- 5 Cabin filters
Brake Replacement and Regenerative Braking - Electric vehicles should require fewer brake services due to the use of regenerative braking. Regenerative braking harnesses kinetic energy and converts it to electricity by utilizing the vehicle’s motor as a generator during braking events. This electricity is then used to charge the high-voltage battery and increase the vehicle’s overall efficiency. This also means the traditional hydraulic brake system is not used as frequently on an electric vehicle, and commonly worn items like brake pads and rotors can have an extended life.
Tire Replacement - Tire replacement is one of the most significant contributors to maintenance costs over the lifetime of any vehicle. On a light-duty truck, a single set of tires can cost $1,000 or more. Some EV owners have also seen as much as a 20% increase in tire wear over ICE-powered vehicles. This increase is largely due to the heavy weight of the high-voltage battery which translates an increased load on the vehicle’s tires. The instant torque from the electric motors can add additional stressear to tires. Fortunately, this can be partially mitigated through driver awareness and driving habits. Finally, many electric vehicles are equipped with low-rolling-resistance tires to improve efficiency and range. However, there are currently fewer low-rolling-resistance tire options on the market, and they are often more expensive than standard tires adding further costs to tire replacements.
High-Voltage Battery and Drive System - While fewer scheduled maintenance costs and services of EVs are attractive, the unscheduled repair costs are still a bit of an unknown. A majority of the EVs on the road today are still covered under the federally mandated 8-year/100,000-mile warranty, which covers the high-voltage battery and the electric drive system. Once the warranty expires, repairs to the drive system, such as replacement of the motor, are comparable to the cost of a traditional engine replacement with costs ranging from $7,500 to $15,000. The high-voltage battery replacement can be even higher with replacement costs ranging from $20,000-$40,000.
In addition to being costly to replace, the battery’s capacity naturally degrades over time. This degradation is not considered a warrantable failure until it reaches a certain percentage of total capacity lost. This degradation can be limited by taking the following steps:
- Limit vehicle exposure to extremely hot temperatures when the vehicle is parked.
- Minimize charging battery to 100% capacity.
- Store vehicle at 25-75% charge when stored for an extended length of time.
- Minimize fast charging.
Technology Repairs - Even though electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts that can wear out and fail, they generally have more high-tech features that can be prone to issues. JD Power and Associates 2023 Dependability Study found infotainment and other tech systems to be the category with the most challenges. Good news, most of these systems are covered under the 3-year/36,000-mile base warranty, which means these items will likely only be outside of warranty for a portion of vehicle ownership.
Repair Facilities – Fleet operators that are considering the transition to EVs should closely examine the availability of EV-certified service locations in the areas in which the EVs will be used. Dealerships are at the forefront of EV service because EVs are a new technology. Due to the investment that shops must make in training and equipment that is necessary to service EVs, it is recommended to confirm that the local dealership is able to service EVs before making the change from ICE to EV. Aftermarket service locations are usually able to perform light services, such as wiper blades, cabin air filters, and tire replacements, but for now, diagnostics and high-voltage concerns should be taken to the local EV-certified dealership. Prior to adding EVs to your fleet, it’s a good idea to ensure there is a sufficient dealer network in your area to service electric vehicles.