Let’s talk about Batteries

Back in 2008 I started my journey into the feasibility of building an electric car. At the time it wasn’t going to save any money as the component costs were simply too high. In 2009 I looked at it again, but with the perspective of what kind of performance car could I build for a reasonable budget. This changed the game and led me on the path that brought me where I am today. My 944 went from a 2.5L 4 cyl with 150hp to a 300hp monster with the big DC motor. This was unbelievably fun but proved unreliable and I couldn’t afford to keep fixing it so that’s where the 150hp Siemens electric motor came from. It was smooth, quiet, efficient and most importantly reliable. Here we sit 11 years after that initial change in direction of the 944 project turning from a humble commuter to an electric sports car and the 944 is going to become something I never could have imagined all those years ago.

The battery that made my car roll was LiFePO4 from A123, these were gray market cells, and worked alright. The power was there, but the reliability proved subpar, the pack was never fully built out before the next chapter began. Next came the CALB CA60’s which are still in the car as I write this, to say they’ve proved themselves is an understatement. The pack was 16kwh when it first went in the car, it was expanded upon a couple of times increasing marginally, and has also degraded over time, I currently have about 15kwh of usable capacity or just over 100km of conservative driving. In my search for new batteries I stumbled across BatteryHookup, these guys were mentioned in the last post, and will probably come up time and time again. They were selling what they called 5.94Kwh battery modules made by LG. The part that got me excited was the fact they were selling for $594 US, that’s the magical $100/kwh that the OEM’s are trying to achieve. So was this for batteries that only had 50% capacity remaining? No, this was for modules that were new and had NEVER been cycled. A capacity test came in at 180Ah of a rated 180Ah, or 100%!!!!!! The best part is battery hookup often has promo codes, and I was able to get 10% off plus discounted shipping making the deal even sweeter. I’ve since bought some BMW modules that test at 104% of original capacity (yep, also new) as well as Tesla Model 3 21700 cells that I’ve been building from fantastic small vehicle batteries out of. I have my first gamble arriving this Wednesday which is a lot of 1900 Sony VTC6’s that have discharged in the modules they were assembled into. I’ve recovered a number of these cells that came from another source and they are pretty resilient cells with only a handful not being recoverable. The icing on the cake is they come out to 77 cents Canadian after exchange/shipping/duty/tax per cell!!! Now assuming they aren’t all recoverable, the cost per cell goes up but I’m optimistic at being able to recover 80-100% of them.

There’s another player in this game, sadly they don’t have the friendly shipping to Canada that Battery Hookup has. However, the product offerings are considerably greater!! BigBattery often seems to have the same or similar products provided you live in the USA.

What’s the moral of the story you might ask? Back in 2012 my CALB CA60 pack (16kwh) cost more than the Chevy Bolt LG battery (66Kwh as new) that I just bought. If you look back in my posts throughout the years I make mention many times is that the reason I eventually upgrade the battery won’t be because the existing one is no longer usable, it’s because there is something much bigger and better that I can’t resist. The LG/Chevy pack is everything I knew the future would bring, though I didn’t actually expect the modules to be new.

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