Electric vehicle recalls have accelerated as the risk of battery thermal runaway due to faults and failures remains a major pain point in the eMobility industry. General Motors recently took a $1.8 billion hit for battery warranty and replacement costs for the Chevrolet Bolt, according to CNBC, and it is not the only major OEM challenged by battery malfunction.
While thermal runaway in electric vehicles is less common than ICE vehicle fires, the number of EV thermal events reported in the past year is concerning to both OEMs and the public as the electrification movement grows, and remains a barrier to purchase for many potential customers. In addition to the Chevrolet Bolt incidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated thermal runaways in Tesla models, Hyundai’s Kona and Ioniq EVs, and Audi’s e-tron.
To overcome their current battery obstacle, the Bolt is now restricted to 60% of the total battery capacity and consumers are instructed to limit indoor charging. However, preventative measures must be taken immediately across electric OEMs to prevent additional battery thermal events and to minimize EV recalls.
Thermal runaway events can have a variety of triggers from software failure to defective manufacturing, according to a Bloomberg interview with Sandy Munro, president of manufacturing consulting firm Munro and Associates. The EV industry requires a multi-pronged approach that addresses all potential hardware and software hazards in order to unilaterally reduce the risk of battery pack faults and failures.
GM stated that manufacturing errors led to thermal runaway events, “'torn anode tab and a folded separator’ in a few individual cells.'” In any event where the vehicle’s battery pack displays atypical behavior, the vehicle’s control system could be used to "limit the entire battery pack to the lowest cell capability.” In GM’s case it failed to do so on a widespread scale. This calls for greater software controls in the BMS, which GM has already taken action on, rolling out software updates to owners of the 2019 Chevy Bolt to prevent further malfunctions.
Electra Vehicles is tackling this pervasive problem by developing AI algorithms that provide predictive analytics and adaptive controls for battery packs to prevent battery failures before they occur.
EVE-Ai™ Fleet Analytics is a fleet management software that anticipates battery faults and failures up to 3 months in advance. It accurately monitors battery State of Health (SOH) and State of Charge (SOC) of historical and real time data to send battery failure alerts, thereby drastically decreasing the need for EV recalls and ensuring battery safety.
In the case of a predicted battery failure event, specific vehicles within the fleet that are flagged, whether commercial or consumer, can be recalled without taking all vehicles of the same model off the road preemptively. With this increased safety measure in place, companies like GM can proactively reduce the hefty cost of battery warranties and replacements due to unsafe operating conditions.
Electra’s flagship software, EVE-Ai™ Adaptive Controls, takes an active approach to battery pack performance by using AI models to control battery pack charge and discharge for maximized range and lifetime. EVE-Ai decreases battery wear and strain, thus meeting battery lifetime and safety warranties, all while still allowing for fast charging and expanded range capabilities under closely monitored conditions.
Avoiding thermal events and ensuring the safety of electric vehicle batteries is necessary for the electric transportation industry to take hold worldwide. Fortunately, Electra is ready to provide the predictive analytics and intelligent controls necessary to enable batteries of the electric revolution.
Published 10/04/2021. Updated 12/07/2021.