Renault ZOE: Battery Charging Impossible (BCI)

Early models of the Renault ZOE would quite often encounter problems with charging at public charging points and would show a message saying “Battery Charging Impossible” (BCI). The ZOE electronics were updated at about the time the new R240 version of the ZOE entered production to fix this issue – however, I’ve learned it can still happen with a new ZOE so let’s look at it in detail.

I had one of the early ZOE’s so i’m experienced with this error. The first thing to note is that in most cases it does not indicate that there is anything wrong with the car. The message simply means “Battery Charging Unsuccessful” and refers to the last charge attempted whereas the wording – perhaps a poor translation from the French – implies something more serious.

When a charge point (CP) is connected to the ZOE a communication takes place between the car and CP to agree a rate of charge. Also the ZOE checks the earth connection of the CP to make sure that it is securely earthed for safety reasons. A BCI error generally indicates that the ZOE found that the CP is not sufficiently well earthed to be safe and so it refuses to charge.

While this might seem to be obviously an appropriate response to a potentially dangerous situation the simple fact is that other electric cars are not so ‘fussy’ as the ZOE and quite often will charge at a CP that the ZOE has a problem with. Worse, the earth connection will vary with outside factors (e.g. weather and dampness of the ground) so that a ZOE can be happy with a CP one day but refuse to use it another day. While it might seem reassuring that the ZOE errs on the side of caution and refuses to charge with a CP that it can’t guarantee to be safe, the result is frustration for the driver when the car needs a charge.

The issue of a BCI from poor CP earthing is well documented. However, there may be another issue that causes BCI’s occasionally. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that the ZOE charges more reliably – particularly with DBT rapid chargers – if the weight of the cable is taken off the connector when the connector is inserted into the car. It’s possible the cause is that the upper pins are not fully connecting during insertion. I suggest, therefore, a BCI may also be caused occasionally by the connector being pulled down by the weight of the cable when initiating the charge. This may be exacerbated if the spare cable is ‘tidily’ pushed under the nose of the car.

Since BCI in its simplest form is just a message to let the driver know that the last charge attempted didn’t succeed the obvious solution is just to try charging again. Unfortunately the BCI seems to be a ‘sticky’ error, in other words once it has happened it more likely to happen on subsequent tries – until a charge succeeds at which point it is completely wiped from the system. Therefore it is not unknown for follow on attempts to charge to produce a BCI even on a CP (e.g. at home) that has previously been fine.

In most cases, however, the BCI ‘stickiness’ will time out. Anecdotally, most people find that it only lasts 10-15 minutes, some people have found it lasts about an hour, and occasionally it can last until the car has sat overnight. In an ideal situation it is best to let the error time out and then try charging again – but it is not unknown for an attempt to charge while the error is still there to succeed, and for it to be cleared, before it has timed out.

Occasionally all attempts to clear a BCI fail and this indicates a hardware fault – it is, however, very unusual. The first thing to check would be the charging cable. If that is fine, then the car needs to be taken to a dealer to be checked.

So, let’s add that all together into a useful procedure.

What to do if you get a Battery Charging Impossible (BCI) message

renault_zoe_bci_google

  1. Don’t panic! In most cases it’s fixable by the driver and doesn’t indicate a long-term issue.
  2. Try charging at least 3 times before giving up:
    • Support the connector where it goes into the car to make sure the upper pins are fully connecting. Listen for a successful latching of the connector into the car (multiple latching sounds may indicate a problem).
    • If you’re at a location with multiple charge points, try a different one each time if possible.
  3. If that fails, shut down, lock up the car and leave it for 15 minutes, then repeat from 2.
  4. If that fails, shut down, lock up the car and leave it for at least 1 hour, then repeat from 2. However, if time is tight go to the next step.
  5. Drive to a different type of charge point and repeat from 2. If possible, it’s usually best to use your home CP as that’s the most reliable and forgiving type. Otherwise, if at a street 7kW charge point try a rapid charge point, or vice versa. Repeat from 2.
  6. If that fails (and that should be very rare) then it could be the cable. Borrow an alternative Type 2 cable and repeat from 2.
  7. If that fails then it looks like there may be a problem with the car – call your dealer and arrange for the car to be checked.

Source: Fuel Included Blog

Home Forums Renault ZOE: Battery Charging Impossible (BCI)

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  reboot 7 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #29883

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Early models of the Renault ZOE would quite often encounter problems with charging at public charging points and would show a message saying “Battery
    [See the full post at: Renault ZOE: Battery Charging Impossible (BCI)]

    #29884

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Any comments or additional advice appreciated!

    #29885

    Surya
    Participant

    This is a really annoying issue. I’ve had it a couple of times, usually in damp or wet weather (but not exclusively).

    I had mentioned this to my dealer when the car went it for it’s yearly maintenance. They looked at it and replaced the charge port (for free) because they thought they found an issue with it.

    I’ve only had it at one charger since then, just over a week ago. I tried 5 times, but I got the BCI every time. I drove to an identical charger 2 minutes away, and that one was fine.

    I just wish the error message was more verbose.

    #29887

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    I’ve had it a couple of times, usually in damp or wet weather (but not exclusively).

    That’s odd because if it’s an earthing issue it should be better in wet weather – maybe it’s actually something else.

    #29888

    scoobystu2
    Participant

    I had this on a hire Q210 Zoe once. I ended up in the situation of requiring a breakdown recovery and the error cleared after the journey of about an hour. I did not however that the car only charged at a 3kW rate at a 7kW charger so suspect there was permanent damage in the charging circuit on this occasion. I had tried another charger and the one it faulted on worked fine earlier in the day, an Ecotricity one.
    Very good guide none the less Trevor. Many thanks.

    #29895

    reboot
    Participant

    Definitely an earth problem, I suffered for 3 years, eventually moved to the new Zoe, no problem, at the previously “faulty” CPs.Not suggesting you do this, but if your home cp had the earth removed, BCI will appear on the dash.

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