Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Automakers Hope to Make Money on Used EV Batteries
MIT Technology Review ^ | Friday, July 22, 2011 | By Kevin Bullis

Posted on 07/22/2011 8:16:13 AM PDT by Red Badger

GM and Nissan tout systems to reuse the expensive battery packs.

At $10,000 a piece, electric-car batteries are too expensive to throw out or recycle into scrap materials. And even after a decade of use, when they can't perform well enough to meet the vehicle's demands, they could still be valuable for other uses. Nissan and GM have both recently announced ways they might make some money from them.

Many issues remain unresolved, not the least of which is whether the automakers would need to buy back the batteries from car owners, or whether dealers would simply lease the battery rather than sell it, which would allow the car company to reclaim it for secondary uses later on.

This week, GM announced a new system that came from its partnership with power electronics and automation giant ABB. The system pairs a battery designed for the Chevrolet Volt with a commercial inverter for interfacing with the power grid. The system employs five to 10 used batteries and could provide a few hours of backup power for homes or small businesses. It could also be used by utilities to help keep the electrical grid working smoothly. Meanwhile, Nissan, as part of a joint venture with the Japanese industrial company Sumitomo, recently announced a system that uses solar panels to charge up batteries. The batteries could then be used to charge electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, even at night. The system already supplies power to seven charging stations at Nissan's headquarters in Japan, and the company plans to eventually sell smaller charging systems.

But how long the used batteries would last is still in question. The GM-ABB system is being designed to deliver 15 years of use for utilities who want backup energy storage, which can be used to smooth out fluctuations on the grid caused by the variability in power output from solar panels and wind turbines. Over the next few years, GM plans to extensively test the batteries, as well as the electronics that would connect the system to the grid. Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager for battery life-cycle management, says GM will add more battery cells than the system really needs as a way of ensuring that it can deliver adequate energy for 15 years. He thinks the system can last that long because most of the loss in energy capacity happens in the first few years, "then it levels off."

According to battery researchers, as electrodes and electrolytes age, they undergo changes in structure and chemistry that can make their performance harder to predict. That's one reason that warranties on electric-car batteries are limited to eight years. Although lab tests give researchers some idea of how long the batteries will last, no Volts have been on the road long enough to adequately test the batteries' durability.

The economic benefits of reusing the batteries aren't clear, either. Pamela Fletcher, global chief engineer for the Volt, says it's too early to say which options GM might find viable. One challenge is that since the latest EVs just went on sale, their used batteries won't be available in large numbers for eight to 10 years. If the cost of new batteries decreases significantly over that time, as expected, it will be harder for used batteries to compete. Although the used batteries will already have been paid for, there will still be costs involved: they'll have to be removed from the cars and repackaged for grid use, and automakers may also need to pay the car owners for the batteries.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Technical
KEYWORDS: auto; battery; electric; hybrid

Test pack: GM has wired a Volt battery to electronics from ABB to study how used EV batteries could provide backup power for the electrical grid. Credit: GM

1 posted on 07/22/2011 8:16:23 AM PDT by Red Badger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

wow, the cussing around here is getting totally routine.


3 posted on 07/22/2011 8:26:29 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Maybe they can be used to power Bill Gates’ new toilets...


4 posted on 07/22/2011 8:26:45 AM PDT by WayneS (Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. -- James Madison)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

let me get this straight. I have a moment of COMPLETE stupid and buy a dolt. I own the car, but I lease the battery. The “lease” is up and GM wants their battery back and a small “fee” (of 10,000 bucks or what ever) for the new “lease”

ya.. I’d have to be brain dead to buy a dolt.


5 posted on 07/22/2011 8:32:59 AM PDT by cableguymn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

let me get this straight. I have a moment of COMPLETE stupid and buy a dolt. I own the car, but I lease the battery. The “lease” is up and GM wants their battery back and a small “fee” (of 10,000 bucks or what ever) for the new “lease”

ya.. I’d have to be brain dead to buy a dolt.


6 posted on 07/22/2011 8:33:07 AM PDT by cableguymn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

I keep scratching my head wondering what type person is going to buy into this hype for electric vehicles given the economics of that decision.


7 posted on 07/22/2011 8:33:15 AM PDT by O6ret (for)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: O6ret

Rich people that like new toys, gadgets, and conversation starters is all I can figure, I sure can’t afford to play games with stuff like whether my 3rd or 4th vehicle will be electric.


8 posted on 07/22/2011 8:43:08 AM PDT by ansel12 ( Bristol Palin's book "Not Afraid Of Life: My Journey So Far" became a New York Times, best seller.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

OK. I want to drive to a city 700 miles away. This isn’t radical...could do it with a primitive car a half century ago. I get 40 miles before the battery is dead. It takes 8 hours to charge it. Yes I will make it if I have a week to spare! Better bring a tent along.


9 posted on 07/22/2011 8:45:22 AM PDT by Voltage
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: WayneS

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Resell.................


10 posted on 07/22/2011 8:58:21 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Voltage
OK. I want to drive to a city 700 miles away.

THAT'S what the government is trying to stop us from doing...............

11 posted on 07/22/2011 8:59:35 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Voltage
I want to drive to a city 700 miles away

That's the big advantage the Chevy Volt has vs. pure EVs. With the gas engine, you just keep rolling after the battery is depleted.

12 posted on 07/22/2011 9:04:32 AM PDT by nascarnation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Reduce,
Reduce what? It's none of yours or the government's business how much I "use"
Reuse, Recycle, Resell.................
Aparently you've never heard of wrecking yards (used auto parts and scrap metal) or used car sales
13 posted on 07/22/2011 9:11:51 AM PDT by lewislynn ( What does the global warming movement and the Fairtax movement have in commom? Misinformation)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

This government is trying to stop from doing most things pleasant to human life. We have to stop voting for politicians who are green, socialist, big government, anti-pro life, and big spenders on what they call benefits for the “middle class.” Americans should be allowed to be adults and make decisions for themselves and their families, even if they don’t always make what others think are the best decisions. If I want a car that goes fast and uses a lot of petrol, so what? If I am stupid and sign a contract or buy a stock that is so so, it’s my fault and my learning experience, not some government regulator’s job to stop me.


14 posted on 07/22/2011 9:12:56 AM PDT by RicocheT
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Right now, there’s a meeting going on at GM headquarters.
“How can we get more taxpayer money?”
“I know, we’ll tell them they can use our old battery systems to power their hair dryers. The government will give us money for that!”
“Oh, Zippy, that’s another million dollar taxpayer bonus for you!”


15 posted on 07/22/2011 9:23:43 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


SAVE  FREEPER  UPCHUCK!
BECOME  A  MONTHLY  DONOR!
*

Boop His Cute Little Nose!

*FReeper  Upchuck

16 posted on 07/22/2011 9:29:05 AM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Resell.................
An 8 to 10 yr. old car that's still running has some value. Buying one reduces the need to build a new car.
Buying one also fulfills the "reuse, recycle, resell" lunacy.

It's not likely anyone with an 8 to 10 yr. old elecric car is going to spend $10,000 on a battery for one...The car is already junk when you drive it off the lot. It will have NO resale value without a $10,000 battery. Only a new car can replace it.

What were you saying about "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Resell"?

17 posted on 07/22/2011 9:30:54 AM PDT by lewislynn ( What does the global warming movement and the Fairtax movement have in commom? Misinformation)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Voltage

Yes it will take as long to go across the U.S. as a wagon train used to take.


18 posted on 07/22/2011 9:38:34 AM PDT by ully2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: lewislynn
The car is already junk when you drive it off the lot. It will have NO resale value without a $10,000 battery.

Maybe they can use the carcass as a flower planter. Gaia would be pleased.

19 posted on 07/22/2011 9:45:21 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: lewislynn

/s.........................


20 posted on 07/22/2011 10:20:07 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: lewislynn

Anybody who has seen my posts for any length of time knows I was being sarcastic....................


21 posted on 07/22/2011 10:22:33 AM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: cableguymn
I’d have to be brain dead a liberal dolt to buy a Volt.

Fixed it for you

22 posted on 07/22/2011 11:46:28 AM PDT by hattend (Its a matter of public record that I did not go to Harvard Law School, but I can add. - Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
The GM-ABB system is being designed to deliver 15 years of use for utilities who want backup energy storage, which can be used to smooth out fluctuations on the grid caused by the variability in power output from solar panels and wind turbines.

Where does the energy to charge the backup battery come from? Those same unreliable "green" power sources? What's the backup to the backup?

23 posted on 07/22/2011 11:49:21 AM PDT by hattend (Its a matter of public record that I did not go to Harvard Law School, but I can add. - Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

“The economic benefits of reusing the batteries aren’t clear, either. Pamela Fletcher, global chief engineer for the Volt, says it’s too early to say which options GM might find viable. One challenge is that since the latest EVs just went on sale, their used batteries won’t be available in large numbers for eight to 10 years. If the cost of new batteries decreases significantly over that time, as expected, it will be harder for used batteries to compete”

The used batteries will also be competing with other means and methods of backup energy storage in the bricks-and-mortar world.

In some cases flywheels may be more economical and in some cases fuel cells may be more dependable. I don’t think used automobile batteries will have an unopposed market in the backup energy storage arena. I expect others will be keeping up with their own technical improvements to compete in that arena.

However, these batteries are built often with rare materials. Given some possible supply-demand scenarios is it not just as possible that recycling the materials in the batteries MAY be much more economical in some future, than it is today??


24 posted on 07/22/2011 12:10:58 PM PDT by Wuli (c)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson