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Discussion Starter #1
I wonder if anyone can help. I parked my car at gatwick for a week. There was no charge left as I had driven down from lytham. When i returned to pick up the car and drive home I had numerous problems on the way home last night. Firstly the orange engine light came on and stayed on for the 260 mile journey. A message appeared saying 'service high power electrical system' or something like that. The Sat Nav was working intermittently and occasionally giving incorrect directions. Another light came on that was similar to the tyre pressure light. The heating and blower went off but started up again. The radio station would not change. Eventually the menu got stuck on the message above and the stuck Sat Nav screen was also stuck. The car ran fine and got me home. On connecting up to the British Gas charger, the orange dashboard bulb came on but the car will not charge. I have only had the car for a few weeks. It's done 15k miles 2012. The garage I bought it from is in Peterborough 220 miles away.
 

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The orange engine light and message seem to indicate a problem with the high voltage electronics...others have recently been discussing this warning light in connection with a leak in the cooling system, it's possible you have one, and maybe this is also why it's not charging. Definitely a call to the nearest Ampera dealer required. You could open th bonnet and check the fluid levels in the coolant bottles at the front, but whatever you do, don't try to top them up yourself! The other electrical issues all seem to revolve around the central console systems...I wonder if they're related. The bigger problem is the first one, for sure, get that seen to first.
 

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I had that message and orange light last week. I had the same symptons not charging and with the orange light etc. A 24hr visit to the dealer had fixed it. Mine was a combination of coolant level and hopbackguy mentioned but they also found a few other things and a reset of the electrics was necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you, was your fault due to leaving your car unused and uncharged for a while. I had no problems prior to this.
 

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No, I have no clue as to what caused mine as I don't remember any change of use or period not used... it just happened when I was out and about one day.
 

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Ah great news, more info to add to our storehouse of fault/effect combinations!
 

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I often drive 5-10 miles per day and rarely long distances.Can someone tell me is it better to recharge every day or wait till the forth day and do a large charge.I am thinking of battery life.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A lot of people seem to keep their car constantly on charge. I charge it every time I use it but, like you, I am unsure what is best for the battery. I would be very interested in any responses to this......
 

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I believe Vauxhall recommend that the Ampera is always left plugged in when not in use but I don't! I only plug in at night. I am on Economy 7 and don't want it charging during the expensive hours.

Also, by keeping it plugged in the car maintains the battery at the optimum temperature ready for immediate use. I think this is not appropriate for us and perhaps for many others. Sometimes we can go days without using the car and it seems silly to waste electricity keeping the battery up to temperature if the car is not going to be used.

As far as I know I don't think keeping it plugged in or not has much effect on battery life. In fact, charging frequently when the battery is only slight depleted could possibly have a detrimental effect as it keeps the battery at full (or as near as the car allows) but I have heard that it makes little difference so not 100% sure of this one.
 

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Paul Churchley said:
As far as I know I don't think keeping it plugged in or not has much effect on battery life. In fact, charging frequently when the battery is only slight depleted could possibly have a detrimental effect as it keeps the battery at full (or as near as the car allows) but I have heard that it makes little difference so not 100% sure of this one.
I think this is precisely why the car doesn't charge to full or discharge to empty. In fact hats off to GM engineering for not succumbing to the inevitable marketing pressures to allow a near-100% charge/discharge and claiming a much larger range, and also for not allowing fast charging for the same reason. The same cannot be said of some other EV manufacturers. A few years down the line we will be thankful!
 

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Paul Churchley said:
I believe Vauxhall recommend that the Ampera is always left plugged in when not in use but I don't! I only plug in at night. I am on Economy 7 and don't want it charging during the expensive hours.
You can set up a charging schedule such that (unless overridden) it will only charge during the off-peak hours.

Also, by keeping it plugged in the car maintains the battery at the optimum temperature ready for immediate use. I think this is not appropriate for us and perhaps for many others. Sometimes we can go days without using the car and it seems silly to waste electricity keeping the battery up to temperature if the car is not going to be used.
I believe it only maintains the battery temperature while charging. Once fully charged it doesn't warm or cool the battery. I left my Volt plugged in fully charged for more than 2 weeks this summer. When we returned it had used less than 20p worth of electricity, so just over 1p per day at peak rates.

As far as I know I don't think keeping it plugged in or not has much effect on battery life. In fact, charging frequently when the battery is only slight depleted could possibly have a detrimental effect as it keeps the battery at full (or as near as the car allows) but I have heard that it makes little difference so not 100% sure of this one.
'Full' is about 80%. If leaving the car for several months you might want to go for a half charge, but I doubt it makes any measurable distance.
 

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Bruce Tanner said:
I think this is precisely why the car doesn't charge to full or discharge to empty. In fact hats off to GM engineering for not succumbing to the inevitable marketing pressures to allow a near-100% charge/discharge and claiming a much larger range, and also for not allowing fast charging for the same reason. The same cannot be said of some other EV manufacturers. A few years down the line we will be thankful!
I think you will find that all EV manufactures have done the same regarding 100%. Fully charged on every EV I know of is not actually 100% of total capacity. It is 100% of what the car battery management system allows. It is the same with my Leaf.

As for rapid charging. It is now becoming clear that rapid charging has nowhere near as much of an effect on the battery life as was first thought. In fact, Nissan has changed its recommendations now to say that a rapid charge a day (on average) will have little effect on battery life. That is 365 per year. I have had my Leaf 2.5 years and although I have driven it all over the country I have done only about 200 rapid charges and the battery is showing no reduction in range that I can detect.

Also, there is at least one Leaf owner that ONLY rapid charges and has done over 30K miles with little effect.

The fear of rapid charging is rapidly being proven to be unfounded.

I do wish I had rapid charging on my Ampera. I would be able to use it as a true EV for long trips but with the safety net of the petrol generator. As it is, without rapid charging, I cannot justify the long stops to charge so I use it mostly on petrol :-( I believe the BMW i3 will take up that role as the best option if you want a EV and range extender. It has twice the battery range of the Ampera. It is only price that stops me considering swapping the Ampera for a BMW i3 now.
 

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IMO the i3 range extender has the opposite problem - petrol does not extend the range enough. I do not believe the i3 would be a great car to do a long journey as you would still need to stop and potentially put in very expensive motorway petrol. That and the small boot makes me think BMW are marketing it as a city and near-to-city car. Of course the extra-cost plan that allows the swap with a ICE BMW helps, but that might not be practical for the "I have to go to Newcastle tomorrow for a meeting" scenario... I actually think the i3 range extender competes more with the Leaf than the Ampera as it can go further with a full battery and tank. Of course these are just my thought and others are more than welcome to disagree :)
 

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You will know more than me about Lithium Ion batteries in EVs - I'm an electronics repair engineer and my comments were based on experience with Lithium Ion power tools, which often do not last long and are fast-charged, and general (mis?-)conceptions in the world of electronics engineering. But did find on wikipedia:

A federal class action lawsuit was filed by a California Leaf owner accusing Nissan of concealing in its advertising that its Leaf vehicles have a design defect that causes them to prematurely lose battery life and driving range. The class action suit says that “before purchase or lease, Nissan failed to disclose its own recommendations that owners avoid charging the battery beyond 80% in order to mitigate battery damage and failed to disclose that Nissan’s estimated 100 mile range was based on a full charge battery, which is contrary to Nissan’s own recommendation for battery charging.”

Idon't know where this 80% charge recommendation comes from - you will know more than me.

Paul as a matter of interest, do you know if other EVs have the battery heating/cooling capability of the Ampera?

Speaking personally there is one other thing that would stop me purchasing an i3: looks!
 

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Hi Bruce,

The recent report on EV batteries (I don't have link to hand) said that the current expectations may actually be conservative and that the batteries might actually be OK for 12 years or more, especially given the charge and thermal management on recent models.

I agree that the i3 looks a bit like a cartoon car in the photos but people in the WhatCar clinic seemed to like it, so maybe it looks better in the flesh? I will stick with the Ampera until the smaller Tesla arrives - of something similar from another manufacturer.
 

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@bruce - The reputation of Li Ion batteries is that of power tools, mobile phones, laptops etc. I am no expert but I do know that the chemistry is different in cars and they have very different charge/discharge characteristics and lifespans. They also have complex battery management systems. You really cannot consider the batteries used in EVs in anything like the same way.

I don't know about that lawsuit but Nissan's attitude and advice has softened since the launch of the Nissan Leaf because of their experience gained. They were suggesting that regularly charging above 80% was going to overly reduce the life of the battery. The same with rapid charging. However, they have found that their caution, although based on their expectations at that time, were rather excessive. They now say that they expect there to be 80% of new range at 5 years and 70% at 10 years. Even 70% will be adequate for most so I don't see many people wanting to overhaul their batteries at all during the life of the car.

However, the life of the EV batteries are likely to be reduce through rapid charging and charging over 80%... just not anything like as much as was first thought. So now I don't worry at all about doing either. I still only charge to 80% as a matter of course but will always charge to 100%, or rapid charge the Leaf if I want/need to. As dpeilow says... the ideal is to keep it around 50% but with limited range overall that is not practical for most people.

A lot of EVs have active battery thermal management. The Leaf rather unusually doesn't and that is why there are some issues with the battery lifespan in very hot countries. Nothing kills batteries more than heat and Leafs that were bought in very hot locations such as Arizona are seeing very much shortened lifespans. Nissan has accept responsibility though and is replacing them under warranty.

@proddick Personally, I don't see the BMW i3 as having the opposite problem because I see the i3 as a full B-EV, similar to the Nissan Leaf, but with a range extender for the times you cannot find a charging location or if a charger fails. In reality, because of the 90+ mile range and the rapid charge capability, it is very possible that the majority of i3s won't use their range extenders hardly at all or even ever. Many Leaf owners are getting by quite happily doing long trips without the range extender and so can the i3... it just gives a degree of insurance. I don't think the REX on the i3 is intended for continuous use in the same way the generator is on the Ampera. We only need the higher petrol capacity because the Ampera does not have the battery range. It the Ampera had a battery range of 90+ miles and rapid charging then there would be no need at all for a 300 mile petrol range.

I think that BMW has it about right with the current state of the art. I didn't say that when they first announced the i3 and then I said the same as you but I now realise that the more battery range you have the less petrol range you need... just to get you to the next charger or home really. Obviously in places where there are few chargers then the Ampera would be more suitable but with the increasing rate of development of charging infrastructure I can see the Ampera as a very much an interim solution and I suspect that there may not be much of a market for it once the BMW i3 and similar EVs with 100+ mile range and range extenders take hold. I don't see many people wanting an EV with just 40 miles range when there is a viable and useable charging infrastructure... and we nearly have that now.

Then it is worth remembering too that all range extenders are really only necessary because EVs don't have the range or speed of charging right now and that the charging infrastructure is still being installed. By the time the more affordable generation 3 Tesla is launched in 3-4 years the infrastructure will be much better and the battery and charging tech will have moved on. It is very possible that within 5 years from now range extenders of any description may well not be considered necessary and EVs will have 200-300+ mile real world range and rapid charging. Then the likes of the Ampera and BMW i3 with REx will look rather old-fashioned!!!
 
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