Before I get to Kia’s story, I want to remind readers about something that happened almost two years ago.
At the beginning of last year, the EV cannonball record was smashed. While previous runs from New York to Los Angeles were all in Teslas (charging infrastructure plus charging speeds means a lot), this was the first non-Tesla EV to take the record in the modern era of EVs.
This was possible due to Electrify America — a company that installed numerous CCS stations in the last few years. Even though it was because of VW’s Dieselgate settlement, the company has shown that its not merely making a half-hearted attempt at EV charging. It’s giving non-Tesla EVs an opportunity to do as well as Teslas, and it has the potential to do even better on specific routes.
At the time, the team said that there were some charging speed issues. Somewhat like a Tesla, the Porsche has a great trip planning computer, and it’s capable of preheating the battery pack to get ready for 270 kW charging speeds — if it knows you’re about to charge at that rate. However, Porsche, VW, and Electrify America’s engineers are still working out some kinks in this area. Connor’s test car had some minor problems with this feature, which kept the pre-heating from happening.
Connor and his team fixed this problem by causing the car’s dash display to show the average battery pack temperature. They also utilized the car’s right pedal in order to manually adjust the pack’s temperature as needed. As he put it, “We had to precondition the battery pack by adjusting driving style to keep it at the correct temperature.”
In other words, if the pack needed warming up, they would drive more aggressively to generate heat via electrical resistance. This would bring the pack up to a better temperature, resulting in a better charge rate. While this method mostly worked, they often didn’t achieve the desired 270 kW rate.
Team members told me that drivers should have no problem beating their record later. With pre-conditioning dialed in, a Taycan will now charge at maximum speeds a lot more consistently, which will add up to a better Cannonball time. This may have already happened, as many people don’t reveal a run until the statute of limitations runs out on speeding and other laws broken making such speed runs across the country.
But, the main point to draw from that story for today’s news is that pre-conditioning is important to getting faster charging.
A Software Update From Kia Solves Similar Problems For EV6 Owners
Kia customers who were among the first to purchase an all-electric EV6 crossover can now upgrade their vehicle with a new battery conditioning feature. This will enable faster charging in colder conditions, which has been an issue. The battery conditioning feature is being offered as an optional retrofit with all MY22 EV6 models, and it’s fitted as standard on MY23 EV6 models, the new EV6 GT , and the all-new Niro EVs.
“The EV6 has won awards and plaudits for its impressive ultra-fast charging performance, real-world driving range of up to 528km (WLTP), and class-leading space and technology. We are constantly looking at ways of improving our products, and with the new battery conditioning upgrade any existing EV6 customer can benefit from even faster cool-weather charging times — particularly useful as temperatures drop,” said Alexandre Papapetropoulos, Director Product and Pricing at Kia Europe. “Simple and intuitive to use, this new feature will ensure drivers can spend less time charging and more time enjoying the journey. This initiative underscores our commitment to maximise the ownership experience for all customers.”
The EV6 can charge from 10% to 80% in as little as 18 minutes under optimal conditions, thanks to its 800 V ultra-fast charging technology. However, at five degrees centigrade, that same charge can take up to 35 minutes in a MY22 EV6 without battery conditioning — the retrofit feature ensures the optimal battery operating temperature is achieved, which can improve charge time by up to 50%.
The upgrade process improves the satellite navigation the car uses to automatically preheat the EV6’s battery when necessary. Why? Because it has to know when the next charging stop is coming to activate the pre-heating or cooling. The conditioning deactivates once the optimal operating temperature is reached. Customers can then experience improved charging performance.
One Bit Of Bad News
But, there’s one bit of bad news for Kia customers who want to get their EV6 in shape for faster charging: it requires a trip to the dealer. Why? Because OTA updates are technically possible, but dumb laws in most states won’t allow a manufacturer to provide recall or improvement work to cars (even if it’s just a software update) without going through their independent dealer franchisees.
In other words, automotive dealers wined and dined state legislators for decades, and now you’ve gotta go pay for the food and alcohol. But, if you’re a smirking Tesla fan, don’t blame Kia. Blame US politics and corruption at the state level for this. You’re probably not smirking now, are you?
Why This Matters
We aren’t all trying to take Cannonball runs. While it would be fun to make such a run across the country, most families would have at least one adult and multiple kids complaining about not being able to get out and stretch legs, stop for sleep, etc. It’s the old “Are we there yet?” at play.
But, that doesn’t mean families and regular single people on road trips want to stop for ages at each charging stop. It’s not a speed competition, but it’s sure nice to stop for 10 minutes instead of 30-40 minutes, right?
Being able to have your car set you up for more 10 minute stops and fewer 30-45 minute stops is worth it, especially if it only takes a quick visit to the dealer for better preconditioning and navigation software. When an hour or two at a dealer can save you dozens of hours later, it’s a great trade of time.
But, all this having been said, who’s going to surprise us with their EV6 Cannonball run?
Featured image by Kia.
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