What Is an Electric Vehicle Traction Battery?

Also referred to as EVs, the electric vehicle traction battery provide power for electric vehicles. They are composed of battery packs, or clustered lithium-ion battery cells grouped together, as well as modules (groups of battery cells), packs (cells, modules, and a separate battery management system (BMS), responsible for cooling down the battery. 
Electric vehicle traction batteries' first order of business is to store electrical energy in its battery pack, where electrical energy is converted into chemical energy. When vehicles are in motion, stored chemical energy converts to electrical energy, supplying power to its electric motor. 
From there, a separate battery management system (BMS) regulates the battery pack by ensuring safe charge and discharge rates, distributing power evenly between cells, and preventing overheating.
Two of the most popular types of EV batteries are lithium-ion and nickel-metal hybrid batteries, which work to varying levels of energy density, discharge rates, and life cycles. 

How Do the Electric Vehicle Traction Battery Work?

Apart from how an EV’s battery pack works, another important aspect of electric vehicle traction batteries is regenerative braking. When the vehicle slows down or comes to a complete stop, the electric motor converts kinetic energy to electrical energy, which provides essential battery storage.
One of the best examples of an electric vehicle traction battery is the Tesla Model S, running at 75 kWh to 100 kWh capacity, with each battery pack comprising thousands of cylindrical cells supplying energy.
In short, electric vehicle traction batteries rely on battery cells, modules, packs, and a battery management system (BMS) to operate at peak efficiency.

Difference Between EVs and Hybrids

Over the past several years, EVs and hybrids have been the main competitors to traditional gas-powered vehicles.
Here are the three main differences between EVs and hybrids:
Motor Configuration
Electric vehicles only use electric motors and battery packs, whereas hybrids use an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. EVS will almost always have larger batteries than hybrids, with the added benefit of regenerative braking and the ability to run on electric power for a little while. However, hybrids primarily rely on their internal combustion engine to operate.
Charging Method
All electric vehicles can be charged using an electric outlet or dedicated charging station, with varying power levels, such as Level 1, Level 2, or DC fast charging. One of the best examples is the Nissan Leaf, which can only be used by plugging in its battery using a Level 2 charger for a full recharge in less than eight hours or as high as 80% with a 40-minute charge time.
In turn, hybrids can be fueled at your local Mobil or Speedway gas station like regular cars. Like electric vehicles, with the Honda Accord Hybrid being the perfect example.
Hybrids have a longer driving range than electric vehicles because they have both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. The estimated range for many electric cars, such as a Chevrolet Bolt, is less than 300 miles on a single charge. That pales compared to the Ford Escape Hybrid, which has a range of 500 plus miles thanks to its electric motor and 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 engine.

Types of the Electric Vehicle Traction Battery

Electric vehicle traction batteries come in different types, such as the following:
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) Batteries
These are the most popular electric vehicle traction batteries. They consist of a mix of different chemicals, such as lithium cobalt oxide (LCO), lithium iron phosphate (LFP), lithium manganese oxide (LMO), and nickel manganese cobalt (NMC). These batteries have long proven to offer an excellent high energy capacity and slow discharge rate, which makes it possible for electric vehicles to achieve a more extended range.
One of the best examples of vehicles using lithium-ion batteries is the Tesla Model S, which can travel 390 miles on a single charge. Another example is the Nissan Leaf, which can travel more than 220 miles on a single charge.
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries
NiMH batteries are an inferior version of lithium-ion batteries with a lower energy density. They used to apply to older models and are no longer used today.
One of the best examples of vehicles using this type of battery is the Toyota Prius, which did well more than a decade ago before lithium battery alternatives hit the market.

Driving Time: Battery Capacity and Range

As for driving time, battery capacity and range depend on the type of batteries used in electric vehicles.
Lithium-ion batteries have long been known for excellent driving ranges and shorter recharging times than nickel metal hydride batteries. For example, the Tesla Model X long-range version can go up to 396 miles on a single charge. Its advanced battery management system allows drivers to add up to 200 miles of range in less than 30 minutes using a Tesla Supercharger.
Other lower-range electric vehicles on the market, like the Chevrolet Bolt, offer a lesser range of up to 259 miles on a single and quick 30-minute recharge of up to 100 miles using a DC rapid charging port.
Nickel metal hydride batteries have much lower energy capacity than lithium-ion batteries. As mentioned, one of the best examples of vehicles using nickel metal hydride batteries is the Toyota Prius, which was only able to achieve around 59 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. That performance is nowhere near that of lithium-ion batteries, which can go hundreds of miles on a single charge.
In short, they depend on lithium battery vehicles like the Tesla Model X and the Nissan Leaf to offer substantially greater range and energy capacity than older technology nickel metal hydride battery vehicles like the Toyota Prius.

Upkeep and Maintenance Tips

Ensure your electric vehicle traction battery is at speed by following these three quick upkeep and maintenance tips:
Don't Neglect Tire Pressure
One of the more neglected aspects of routine maintenance with electric vehicles is monitoring tire pressure. The lower the tire pressure, the worse your rolling resistance and operating at an optimal range will be. We highly recommend you check your tire pressure at least once a month or whenever your automaker recommends it.
Maintain Brake Pads and Rotors
Another important aspect of upkeep and maintenance for electric vehicles is regularly inspecting your brake pads and rotors. They still can wear out a bit the longer you drive, especially if you're an aggressive driver. Remember to check your brake fluid, as increased moisture absorption reduces your braking power. Your owner's manual recommends that you check and replace your brake fluid anywhere up to 20,000 miles.
Keep Temperature in Check
Always ensure that your electric vehicle is parked in the shade of an area where extreme temperatures can cut into your battery output. Try to avoid extremes in temperatures from severe cold to extreme heat. Remember to warm or cool your battery down before driving in weather conditions, which helps preserve battery life.

Over the next decade, expect to see plenty of advances in electric vehicle batteries, offering even greater driving range and performance along with an ever-improving carbon footprint. It's all part of an ideal plan to support greener and cleaner transportation, of which electric vehicles are an important piece.

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