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High-Voltage Batteries: The Heart Of Electric Vehicles

It’s no secret that the heart of an electric vehicle is its high-voltage (HV) battery.

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There are a number of electrical circuits and protection devices found within an HV battery assembly. These circuits work in conjunction with the vehicle’s battery-management system (BMS) to ensure safety and battery longevity.

It’s not uncommon to have several hundred lithium cells in an EV and more than 25 cells in a hybrid vehicle. These cells must be properly balanced to one another, while their temperature and the packs’ overall voltage and amperage must be closely monitored by the BMS.

Often, when a battery has been properly tested and is found to be bad, a remanufactured battery may be the best option due to the price.

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Typically, remanufactured batteries include a number of improvements, such as nickel-plated terminals (to avoid corrosion); optimized cell mounting to eliminate the risk of case cracking due to vibrations; individual cell testing and balancing of the pack; and other comprehensive testing to ensure long life.

For example, Dorman’s remanufactured hybrid battery pack for the 2004-2009 Toyota Prius features “nickel-plated bus bars and corrosion-resistant terminals for increased reliability,” according to the Dorman website, while “proprietary software uses [a] multi-dimensional grading process to select battery cells that will perform ideally together.” The battery packs are subjected to “multiple stringent validation gateways, including on-vehicle tests using EPA performance standards,” according to the company.

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Remanufactured batteries should be an attractive option for your customers – especially those who own hybrid vehicles, as they’re likely seeking a cost-effective solution. Dorman’s remanufactured hybrid battery packs come with a two-year warranty, according to a recent sales flyer, compared to the eight- to 10-year warranty for most OE batteries. Generally speaking, however, remanufactured batteries should have the same life expectancy as a new one.

It’s important to note that when a remanufactured battery is sent to the warehouse, there’s an expiration tag applied to the outside of the shipping container. Make sure you’re not installing a battery that’s due to return to the manufacturer to receive an updated charge and testing procedure.

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A word about handling HV batteries, whether they’re new or remanufactured: These batteries are heavy! They’re packaged in clamshell cases to minimize the risk of electrical shock. Because of their weight, HV batteries should be stored low to the ground, and counter pros (and customers) should take great care when lifting them, to avoid injury.

Let’s discuss a few add-on sales opportunities. I firmly believe that all shops working on electric vehicles need high-voltage gloves, insulated handtool sets and a Level 2 charger. Remember, all EVs use electrons the entire time they’re in a shop – as opposed to ICE vehicles, which only use gasoline when the engine is running.

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Advanced diagnostic tools represent another great sales opportunity. When it comes to diagnosing EVs and their batteries, the current level of diagnostics only allows a technician to see what’s transmitted over the data bus lines of communication. This is because a traditional diagnostic scan tool gets its information from the OBD II connector located under the dash. Autel has addressed this challenge with its MaxiSYS MS909EV platform.

With the MaxiSys MS909EV system, technicians can analyze an EV battery by plugging into the OBD II port or connecting directly to the battery. By connecting to the BMS, technicians now have full insight into battery state of health and individual battery-cell state of charge; access to all the thermistors; and visibility into the “handshake” that occurs between a charger and the vehicle. The MS909EV screen displays detailed graphics and in-depth connection guidance to provide safe and secure testing, as well as comprehensive diagrams of high-voltage system blocks, components and sockets. In addition to providing rapid analysis of high-voltage systems in electric and hybrid vehicles, the MS909EV’s intelligent diagnostic capabilities extend to U.S., European and Asian gasoline and diesel vehicles.

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