Renault’s Innovative Second-Life Use For Lithium-Ion Car Batteries…Put Pack In A Different Car

2 years ago by Mark Kane 12

Carwatt presents a unique automotive application for second-life batteries from electric vehicles

Carwatt presents a unique automotive application for second-life batteries from electric vehicles

Carwatt presents a unique automotive application for second-life batteries from electric vehicles

Carwatt presents a unique automotive application for second-life batteries from electric vehicles

Renault, as with other electric car manufacturers, is gearing up for the “second-life” of the batteries when capacity falls below around 75% of initial capacity.

The standard application would be to use those batteries in energy storage systems, because lower capacity means lower energy density – needed in vehicles, but that’s not important in ESS.

But it seems that there are other approaches to use those batteries again in other vehicles – lower-cost conversions.

And here comes Carwatt, which with help from Renault electrified an old Renault Trafic.

But is moving batteries from one car to another is viable, cost-effective solution? We’re not so sure…

“On the sidelines of the COP21 summit, in the Solutions Gallery running from 2 to 9 December 2015 in Le Bourget near Paris, Carwatt and its partners —Renault, Paris City Council, BPI France, the Alès École des Mines Engineering School, and the Bobigny Business Campus — are showing a very special electric Renault Trafic. This prototype vehicle, the only one of kind in the world, is powered by second-life lithium-ion batteries recycled from Renault electric cars.

Circular economy at work with electric vehicles
When, over time, the batteries of a Renault electric vehicle fall the performance threshold specified for their initial automotive power duty (around 75% of initial capacity), they can still provide valuable service in “second-life” applications before end-of-life disposal at a recycling centre. Experiments are already under way on power storage applications, for example.
Carwatt develops innovative applications for using these batteries to convert used urban commercial vehicles into electric vehicles. In giving a second automotive life to these batteries, Carwatt provides a good illustration of the founding principles of the circular economy, in that the whole-lifecycle battery value is optimized through successive usages.

Lower pollution and less expense
Electric conversion of urban commercial vehicles reduces investment levels as well as makes a concrete and immediate contribution to reducing urban pollution levels, since 94% of commercial vehicles are diesel-fuelled. In 2016, Carwatt and Paris City Council will be experimenting with other Renault commercial vehicles converted to run on electricity.”

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12 responses to "Renault’s Innovative Second-Life Use For Lithium-Ion Car Batteries…Put Pack In A Different Car"

  1. SJC says:

    Put two LEAF packs in a van that can handle the weight. As long as it can get 100 mile range, you may have customers.

    1. offib says:

      But the load capacity would surely suffer.

      1. Mikael says:

        At least those vans could enter cities where diesel is banned

      2. Vans used for postal service or other type of city service never get anywhere close to their weight limit.

        Weight limit might only be a concern for industrial transportation or construction companies.

        1. SJC says:

          You replace 600 pounds of engine, transmission and gas tank with 600 pounds of batteries, add another 600 pounds then you have a payload of over 1000 pounds. This could be useful.

  2. heisenberght says:

    “But is moving batteries from one car to another is viable, cost-effective solution? We’re not so sure…”

    Why not? A used commercial vehicle with a broken ICengine can be quite cheap. Add used battery packs, which are also cheap and you have a working vehicle again. That’s fantastic.

    The only thing that will be expensive is motor and controller stuff, but with growing demand prices will fall…

    It all depends on how many used battery packs hit the market. From this perspective battery degradation should be higher 😉

    1. MikeG says:

      Unless you have high enough volume to justify the non-recurring engineering work, I don’t see this as a viable business model. It may appeal to the hobbyist, though.

    2. wavelet says:

      Over here (and I doubt it’s different in other locales), for compact cars/vans such as the Kangoo, a post-overhaul ICE engine (with 6 months of warranty) can be bought for 5-10% the value of a 7y.o. of the vehicle, including installation. The same brand-new ICE engine is ~30-50% more. I’m pretty sure any e-conversion would cost sa lot more, unless done at very large scale.

      1. kubel says:

        At that point, you are dumping a significant investment into a van that is likely very close to end of life anyway.

        It might work if you dropped it into a Grumman LLV, since those alumimum body on frame vehicles are actually designed to last 30+ years. Most unibody Euro-style vans are disposable after 10 years, and they rust out after 8.

        1. Jay says:

          Good point Kubel- we’re putting second-life lithium into a Grumman Kurbwatt right now, and that 32 year old aircraft-worthy body is as tight as EVer! Plus with lithium, the range will triple while battery weight goes down by 1/3 compared to the original flooded lead design.

    3. SJC says:

      It would depend on the cost of batteries. If Nissan would sell you old packs for the $1000 deposit, you could make money.

  3. That could be a 60 kWh pack (pictured at top of article, next to van). It looks to be (size) of 5x * 12kWh modules from a LEAF pack.

    The 60 kWh question is what is the premium on getting a new 60 kWh pack vs a use ~45 kWh pack (~0.75% of new) capacity?