There are plans for battery life after use in your EV
Back in September, we briefly touched on Nissan’s plan to Reuse, Refabricate, Resell, or Recycle used LEAF batteries. While Nissan may have some idea of what their plans are, what of the industry in general? What thoughts have been turned this way?
California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) has announced a partnership with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to study potential uses of electric vehicle (EV) batteries that can no longer serve in their primary capacity as an EV energy storage device, but may serve well in other capacities. These other possibilities include residential and commercial power management. For instance, three LEAF battery packs depleted by 50% would still maintain 12 kilowatt-hours of energy storage each. If three battery packs were linked together, this would provide 36 kilowatt hours of energy storage. One possible advantage of this type of arrangement could be some residual value being applied to the battery pack, that the consumer could then use toward a replacement battery pack.
Another aspect to be studied will be the potential of the used EV battery packs to provide power grid stabilization capability, according to NREL. Wind and solar energy for instance, could benefit by having greater storage capacity to hold unused power to redistribute it as it is needed. The University of San Diego has agreed to deploy re-purposed EV batteries when no longer usable in their initial application. The study will look at battery life, recommendations for battery design, an evaluation of regulatory needs and assessment of economic benefits.
While no one in the automotive industry, including Nissan, is willing to provide the cost of their batteries, some clues can easily be found. The Tesla Model S sedan will be available with three different driving ranges – and three dramatically different prices. The base Model S will have a range of 160 miles and will cost $57,400 (less any available tax credits). An upgraded battery offering an extra 70 miles (230 mile range) will add roughly $10,000. The initial offering from Tesla will be the top of the line 300 mile range Model S will be roughly an additional $20,000. From this example, it can be seen that, in the case of the Tesla Model S, 140 miles of range costs roughly $20,000. The math comes out to about $142 per mile of range. Taking Nissan’s own range estimate of 100 miles, using these numbers, the cost of the LEAF battery pack would come to over $14,000. J.D. Power estimates today’s lithium-ion battery cost at $750 to $800 per kilowatt hour. This would equate to a current LEAF battery pack price of $18,000 to $19,200. Without a doubt, as production scales up, and manufacturing costs come down, the cost of a replacement battery will be significantly less in 5 to 10 years. And there are those of us that will continue to be satisfied driving our car less than 50 miles per day on the original battery and motoring along just fine. We have said before that a car is a tool. Every tool has a specific job. When chosen properly, and used as designed, any tool should be able to provide years of virtually trouble-free life. That is what we look for from our LEAF.