Some EV experts and sector federation Traxio say there is an urgent need for a reliable battery test and the appropriate certificate to regulate upcoming sales of second-hand electric vehicles.
Recent tests of battery packs in second-hand full-electric vehicles have shown that batteries still can be in good shape after years of use and can be sold on the second-hand market.
But these tests also showed that there can be significant differences between brands and that it also depends on how the EV has been used. The experts and Traxio insist on a reliable certificate to reassure the second-hand EV buyer.
The second-hand EV market will grow
In Belgium, the market is recently dominated by company cars. The legislator has foreseen that this (most important) market segment (two-thirds of the whole market at the moment) has to be emission-free as of 2026.
This means that this professional market is electrifying at a considerable speed now and that between now and a few years, a large number of electric second-hand cars will come onto the individual market. Without a doubt, this will be one of the most significant stimuli for individual buyers to finally go electric, together with the venue of more affordable, smaller electric cars on offer shortly. To better inform these buyers, a realistic view of the vehicle’s state and the battery is crucial.
Mobility club VAB and the Design and Technology Center of the Thomas More High School have been testing a 10-year-old battery of a Renault Zoë following the so-called Aviloo procedure.
The results were surprisingly positive; the battery still had an 81% SoH score (State of Health), which is very good. But, of course, how the battery is used during these first years can influence its state, and a battery with a SoH of below 70% is virtually useless in a car (although it can still be used for other energy storage purposes).
Some older and less technically sophisticated EVs can lose up to 6% of SoH per year; with modern and recent EVs, this has been reduced to 2% yearly. The critical thing to know for an EV is the number of loading cycles a battery has had.
Luc Claessens from Thomas More and Filip Rylant from Traxio plead for a reliable battery test and certificate as soon as possible. Ideally, this SoH score should be part of the Car-Pass certificate Belgium has pioneered.
According to Claessens, talking to VRTnws, they have compared three test methods, and the Aviloo test revealed itself to be the most reliable. ‘There is an urgent need for a standard test procedure on which the certificate then can be based.”
This certificate is urgently needed for the individual second-hand buyer, says Traxio spokesman Filip Rylant. “To get this type of buyer, you need a reliable document; otherwise, he or she won’t be interested, and the cars will end up in other markets.”
A critical factor in the world of car leasing and company cars is the car’s residual value at the end of its lease contract. At the moment, leasing companies are still struggling with that when EVs are concerned because it’s still difficult to measure the health of the battery, an all-important piece to evaluate the state of an EV.
“We don’t know enough yet to evaluate the depreciation of an electric car over the years,” says Frank Van Gool at Renta (the lease company association). “There are still a lot of questions. Many manufacturers offer an eight-year guarantee or even more for their battery pack. But what are the conditions for this guarantee, and what will be replaced if things turn bad? We don’t know yet.”
“We will have to master this question and apply some other criteria, unknown yet, to master the problem of the residual value of EVs entirely,” Van Gool concludes.