March 6, 2020

Electric vehicle maintenance tips for COVID-19 shelter in place

Electric vehicle with charging plug

The economic and public health impacts currently being experienced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are historic on a global scale, and the situation presents a disruption in our daily routines that is unprecedented in modern life.


The social impact that is increasingly becoming the norm across the U.S. is happening house to house as a result of “shelter in place” orders. Commuting and school drop off have been replaced with full-time work from home and online lessons. In this shelter in place environment, very few are spending much, if any, time behind the wheel.


While typically electric car drivers might be used to driving their vehicles daily, or at least several times a week, many EV drivers have likely not previously had to consider what maintenance is necessary for electric cars that are sitting dormant for days on end.


Electric vehicle maintenance tips while sheltering in place

The heart of any electric car is its battery – and for many EV owners, this is where electric car maintenance questions arise. Most drivers are familiar with measures that need to be taken with gas cars while sitting for long periods, such as occasional driving to ensure adequate battery charge and to circulate the engine oil and coolant, and for longer periods changing spark plugs and air filters. Luckily, electric cars have fewer moving parts, and are less maintenance intensive.


Standby power drain – or “vampire drain” – is one of the more noticeable side effects of an electric car that remains parked for an extended period. This drain is a slow reduction in lithium ion battery energy caused by onboard systems that stay active while a vehicle is not in use, such as security systems, low-level computer systems, telematics, and so on. The loss of range is not significant on a daily basis, at approximately one to two percent per day, though that could increase slightly in colder temperatures. If left dormant for a week or longer, the loss in range can be noticeable.


For owners of JuiceBox smart EV chargers, this drain can be easily remedied by simply keeping your plug in electric car plugged into your JuiceBox and checking/updating your settings in the JuiceNet app. We recommend setting your JuiceBox to maintain a state of charge around 70 – 80 percent to increase your battery life. This way, if the battery pack drains over a period of days, JuiceBox will keep it in a steady state. As noted above, this same issue is present in traditional internal combustion engine vehicles as well – the 12-volt auxiliary battery drains over time for the same reasons, and left undriven, the car will no longer start after a period of time.


EV drivers should also follow traditional vehicle maintenance practices during this time, such as using a car cover to protect exterior paint. In order to keep tires more pressurized, drivers can put their car up on blocks. They can also be mindful to replace windshield wipers when needed. EV drivers don’t need to worry about other maintenance items like auxiliary belts -- in many ways, electric vehicle maintenance is much simpler than gasoline-powered vehicle maintenance.


Smart charging and the electrical grid

Even while sheltering in place, communities can still do their part for the environment by leveraging smart charging events to charge with the surplus of solar energy during the daytime as our daylight hours increase or evening wind production. While the daily lives of most have been turned upside down, the electrical grid is still seeing a decreased demand as workplaces, businesses, industrial facilities, event venues and more remain closed or operate at minimal capacity. However, demand from homes has remained steady and increased in many regions.


As a result, smart charging events are still happening frequently in California ISO and beyond, giving drivers the opportunity to not only charge with clean energy, but to save while doing so. Keeping your electric car plugged into your JuiceBox gives you the opportunity to maximize the use of renewable energy via JuiceNet Green.


Home charging remains a safe, convenient and reliable way to ensure your EV is charged –during these uncertain times.


The impact of COVID-19 on clean energy and electric cars

It’s too soon to tell how this public health and economic crisis will impact climate progress, but we hope there is a silver lining for society to employ new workers in the renewable energy and electric vehicle industries. The global automotive market is acutely sensitive to macroeconomic conditions, as cars represent the second most expensive purchase in a person’s life.


As a tactic to combat buyer uncertainty, General Motors is offering discounts of up to $10,000 on new 2020 Chevy Bolt electric vehicles and is also offering leases for just $199 a month for 2020 Bolts and a $8,500 customer rebate for all 2019 Bolt models. GM, Ford and Tesla will also make ventilators to help alleviate a shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Enel X e-mobility employees are currently required to work from home, except for a limited number of essential operations employees which are still shipping JuiceBox home chargers to EV drivers that need them.


Amid the pandemic, communities are experiencing better local air quality and decreased transportation pollution. This year, China has seen a 25 percent drop in GHG emissions and New York nearly 50 percent. While these decreases are largely short term, poor air quality exacerbates respiratory issues as people fight coronavirus. Back in 2018, the World Health Organization reported, "Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world. 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Updated estimates reveal an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution."


While much of the future remains unknown as the situation changes day-to-day, Enel X is taking measures to ensure the continuity of its services. From all of us at Enel X, we wish you and those dear to you good health, safety and wellbeing.

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