A few days ago, we submitted a Citroën C-Zero and a Kia Soul EV to a certification procedure on the health of their battery. Guillaume Hebert, co-founder of the application, comments on the results we received very quickly digitally. The booklets followed by La Poste.
75% for the C-Zero
At 127,747 km and almost 8 years after its entry into service, the Citroën C-Zero in our test is credited with an SoH (State of Health) of 75%. How should a new used electric car buyer interpret this result?
“This data is the best way to understand where the battery is. That of this C-Zero will deliver 25% less energy than when it was new. Roughly speaking, this corresponds to a loss of autonomy of about 25%, “replied Guillaume Hebert.
“There are 2 pieces of information to be learned from the SoH: the use that can be made of the tested electric car, and the value of the battery and therefore of the vehicle. In general condition comparable to the rest of the EV, the lower the SoH, the lower its selling price should be, ”he explains.
“For a C-Zero that is 8 years old and almost 130,000 km, a 75% SoH is a normal value. There is about 2 to 3% loss per year. To make the information more understandable to a buyer who is new to electric cars, we also indicate the maximum range after a full charge. On this C-Zero, it is estimated at 104 km, ”explains Guillaume Hebert.
How do you calculate this data? “This is a value that you can get most of the time from the car dashboard. We perform a driving history erase beforehand. This is a good indicator when a potential buyer walks up to an electric car whose battery is not fully charged. The autonomy then indicated on the dashboard is less easy to interpret, “he continues.
“A battery is made to last between 10 and 15 years. With an SoH of 75%, this C-Zero still has potential that will satisfy some buyers once the purchase price of the vehicle is set accordingly. Others will want to compare and prefer a copy with a better value, “says our interlocutor.
99% for Soul
“For the Kia Soul, an additional mark is awarded. On your test, it is only 8.9 out of 10 despite having a 99% SoH. It takes into account the 3 kWh lost which separate the usable capacity – 27 kWh – and the actual capacity of the pack – 30 kWh. For its warranty, the manufacturer refers strictly to the SoH, ”explains Guillaume Hebert.
What is your opinion on these values? “For many models other than Soul, that would be great. Kias are however among the electric cars on which the battery preserves the best. We observe EVs of this brand with 30,000 km and more than a year with 100% SoH and the 3 kWh buffer still present. The pack is then like new! Nothing alarming for yours, but it would be interesting to compare with others of the same age with similar mileage, “said the founding leader of La Belle Batterie.
His restraint regarding our Soul lets us imagine that the regular use of quick recharges had an effect, admittedly modest, but real, on the state of health of the pack.
Reliability of backup times calculated by manufacturers
Each manufacturer has their own algorithm for calculating the radius of action after a full recharge. The 2 vehicles that we submitted to the La Belle Batterie kit are in this respect quite opposed to each other.
On the C-Zero, the range estimated by its electronics is very optimistic. It is difficult to achieve the posted mileage. The 104 km displayed here will be difficult to achieve. It is also quite scary sometimes to realize along the way that a destination that seemed accessible at once will require an unforeseen intermediate recharge.
Quite the opposite on the Kia Soul, where the cumulative distance between the distance traveled and the distance still estimated continues to increase most often in usual use. A much more reassuring scenario. The 156 km entered for that of our test, on the document received from La Belle Batterie, will most of the time be exceeded by a few tens of km.
Genesis of the La Belle Batterie certificate project
“Having been interested in the automobile for a long time, I believe that the electric car is an evolution of the personal vehicle for most uses. I wondered why she wasn’t growing faster. Already because of its higher purchase price than for a thermal equivalent. Hence the idea of starting with a second-hand model that makes it more accessible, “recalls Guillaume Hebert.
“A question came naturally to me: ‘My cell phone loses 30% of its battery capacity in 2-3 years, what about electric car packs that use the same technology? Hence the idea of developing a tool that serves as a trusted third party during disposals, with the publication of a battery health certificate, “he continues.
“We had thought for a moment to open a garage specializing in this operation, but we felt that it would be complicated to achieve,” he reports.
Different information on the 2 certificates
“For each model of electric car there is a lot of work to be done to obtain compatibility between our certificates. We must take into account the technology of the battery management BMS, the choices made by the manufacturers, etc. In front of the information that we can put together for each of the electric cars, we carry out a sorting to restore the most relevant. This is why data is available for some models but not for others, “says Guillaume Hebert.
For example, on the digital document received for the Citroën C-Zero, an end of warranty date for the battery is indicated: 08/29/2020, i.e. 8 years after the date of entry into service.
However, it is not applicable to that of our test. First of all because there is a second condition: a maximum mileage of 100,000 km which is exceeded here by more than 27,700 km approximately. Secondly, because the C-Zero packs put on the market between 2010 and November 2014 had less extensive coverage: 5 years or 50,000 km.
Towards coverage of the entire electricity market
“At the start of 2019, we were in a phase of ideation and understanding the market. Then we thought of creating this certificate guaranteeing the health of the battery. In our R&D phase, we looked for reliable information, not likely to vary depending on the temperature for example at the time of diagnosis, and on which to rely. Once we understood how the SoH was obtained, we adopted it, ”explains Guillaume Hebert.
“We started to offer a kit for the Renault Zoé and Nissan Leaf, and continued with the Citroën C-Zero and derivatives, Kia Soul EV and Renault Kangoo Z.E. Our next entries will focus on the BMW i3, Peugeot e-208 and all Tesla models ”, he quotes.
“Our goal is to cover 90% of the electric cars on the French market by the end of 2021. We are already working on the 2nd version of our website which will contain much more explanations, with a more important educational aim, “he reveals.
“Today, our clientele naturally consisted of people who have had an electric vehicle before and are familiar with the issue of aging batteries. Before acquiring a new used EV, they absolutely want to know the state of health of the pack, “says Guillaume Hebert.
“We now want to reach those who are new to electric vehicles and are about to buy one. And this, so that this operation does not quickly turn into a disappointment, ”he says.
“We compare our kit a lot to CanZE or CaniOn. But I can’t see a person unfamiliar with electric cars coming up with their dongle and reliably deducing the health of a battery. It is important to carry out a rebalancing of the cells already beforehand. Our certificate is issued independently of the buyer and the seller. It’s a real plus, ”he says.
“Many professionals in the sale of electric vehicles have approached us. We are in the process of developing a service adapted to their needs, ”he emphasizes.
To invoke the manufacturer’s warranty
“When an electric car battery, always guaranteed, falls below a certain level of SoH, the manufacturer must change or reprogram it at his expense. Before that, he performs a diagnosis that he charges the motorist at a high price, often over 100 euros. It’s a deterrent! Using our kit, the EV owner will be able to assess whether the operation is worth it. It will have more weight with the mechanic by arriving with our certificate ”, assures Guillaume Hebert.
“We can not consider that a battery health certificate is mandatory for a transfer of an electric vehicle, unlike technical control which focuses on safety as a priority. It is the used EV market that must naturally show that it is absurd to buy a used electric car without reliable battery control, “concludes our interviewer.
Automobile Propre and I would like to thank Guillaume Hebert very much for his availability for our test and for this interview.