Smith Electric Vehicles, makers of large electric utility vehicles that use LiFePO4 batteries, announced that their internal research, their real-world experience, and research that they have commissioned all indicate that the longevity of LiFePO4 batteries is even better than manufacturers forecasts, according to a report in Fleet News. Smith Electric Vehicles has both US and UK operations and has been in the EV business since 1920. Smith’s recent $13M commitment to Valence, makers of large format LiFePO4 based LiFe(1-x)Mg(x)PO4 batteries, illustrates the magnitude of their findings. Kevin Harkin, sales director for Smith Electric Vehicles, states that they have “verified that the battery should still have a minimum of 80 per cent capacity after 3,000 cycles.” In other words a 100-mile range vehicle that operates 300 days a year is likely to still have an 80 mile range even after almost 300,000 miles and 10 years of use. These type of longevity figures have a dramatic impact for fleet and utility operations where total cost of ownership and predictable driving patterns dominate. Harkin also points out that this has an impact on residual value as well, since a 10 year old EV with LiFePO4 batteries is expected to still have significant utility left.
Smith Electric Vehicles now offer a 5-year battery warranty. By comparison, although shorter in time than the 8-year 100,000 mile warranty offered by Nissan on the all electric Leaf 5-passenger sedan, the Smith EV warranty represents potentially 150,000 miles on much larger packs. The battery packs Smith use range from 36-50 kWh for their smaller Edison utility van to 80-120 kWh on their larger Newton box truck. The Newton can be outfitted for payloads over 16,000 lbs with a gross vehicle weight over 26,000 lb. For comparison the 3500 lb Leaf uses a 24 kWh battery.