Renault gives second-life to EV batteries

Renault gives second-life to EV batteries

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Renault and Powervault, the UK-based energy storage system manufacturer, announced a partnership to re-use electric vehicle (EV) batteries in home energy storage units. The saving to Powervault will make its storage system 30% cheaper, allowing its home storage system to become a financially viable solution to households across the UK.

Electric vehicle batteries are typically used until it depletes 20% of its capacity, after which it needs to be replaced, leaving a healthy portion of battery left for static battery applications, which are less demanding on the technology than the harsher requirements of transport applications. Typically an EVs battery can handle between 2,000 and 5,000 cycles or more depending on which supplier and what cell chemistry is used in the battery. BAIC models, for instance, using a LiFePO4 (Lithium Phosphate) based battery, guarantee 2000 cycles while the first Chevrolet Volt’s listed 5000 cycles. The Chevrolet Volt, however, electronically limits that only 65% of the battery is made available to the car to protect the battery, so to compare apples to apples, it would be better to compare throughput as appose to cycles.

Renault has already sold over 100,000 electric vehicles between its Zoe, Twizy, Kangoo and Fluence models, of which 25,000 are older than four years. Renault’s EV business model includes leasing its batteries to customers. Extending the usage of its batteries through a second-life application will provide Renault with a better return on investment and hopefully in future bring down the price of batteries faster.

According to the press release, Powervault will place 50 units on trail at existing customers who already have the company’s solar panels installed. The trial will explore the technical performance of second life batteries as well as customer reaction to home energy storage to help develop a roll-out strategy for the mass-market. The trial will be run with eligible customers of M&S Energy, plus social housing tenants and schools in the South East.

The relatively high cost of Home Storage Systems has until recently made little financial sense, with payback periods from savings overshooting the useful life of the system. Bringing system cost down to an acceptable payback of between five and seven years is seen as the holy grail for system manufacturers and homeowners.

Other EV manufacturers have already pursued business plans for second life batteries in Battery Home Systems with or without Solar. In June 2016 Nissan and Eaton installed an Energy Storage Solution in France, created from “second life” Nissan Leaf batteries. Nissan installed the Energy Storage Solution at WEBaxys, a data center. In the same month, BMW announced that it would follow Daimler, Nissan, and Tesla in creating second life energy storage systems for residential and commercial use. Second life battery systems would not have the same warranties as new systems.

Extending the life of EV batteries will also result in lower recycling related cost and overall optimize the use of the battery. Second Life applications and applications such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), where an EV owner sells power back to the grid, makes electric vehicles much more appealing and blows in the face of the technologies detractors.


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Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 16 2017

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories Week 16 2017

#1 – Fist full EV VTOL Jet take to the skies

A German startup, Lilium, founded in 2015 with the intent to develop the first fully electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) jet this week completed its first successful test flight. The vehicle, named Eagle, a two-seater prototype completed its first test flight in Bavaria, Germany. The test flight included a range of advanced maneuvers, including its signature mid-air transition from hover mode to wing-borne forward flight.

electric car newsletterLilium’s business plan provides a flying five-seater taxi on demand. The Lilium Jet has a cruising velocity of 300km/h (187mph) and range of 300km. The design consists of a 10-meter wingspan, 36 engines, and works on the canard concept with powered lift.

The company beats industry heavyweights Airbus at its own game. Airbus unveiled the Airbus Pop.up during the Geneva Auto Show in 2017.

#2 – LG-Chem Q1 Sales excels

LG Chem, the Korean battery vehicle manufacturer, this week announced it’s Q1 sales valued at $5.5Bln, showing growth of 33% year-on-year. More impressive though is that the company showed an increase in operating profits of 74% year-on-year. In our view, it provides a safety margin which could point to price decreases in the expected price war, similar the solar panel market as huge new plants is coming online over the next two years.

#3 – Tesla recall a buying opportunity

Tesla this week announced one of its largest voluntary recalls for 53,000 manufactured between February and October 2016. The recall is due to a fault in a third-party supplied component, potentially resulting in the handbrake not releasing. The recall is not viewed as negative and hardly had an impact on the share price as the company closed near its record price of $307.71 set earlier the week, still very well on the way to our first target of $320.
Tesla’s announcement that it would unveil its Semi-truck in September had analyst very excited, speculating that it would add billions to the companies bottom line and disrupt the sector. The company is expected to lease the batteries at $0.25 per mile saving trucking companies the $0.50 fuel charge.

#4 – Q1 EV sales for France, German, and China, two out three ain’t bad.

German (#9 on Top EV list), French (#7 on Top EV list), and Chinese (#1 on Top EV list) EV sales for Q1 was released this week. Both China and Germany saw huge year-on-year increases, while French EV sales flatlined. Read our blogs for a detailed breakdown of the sales.

#5 – More Concept’s and a few production-ready vehicles at Shanghai Auto Show

The New York and Shanghai Auto Show’s provided many newsworthy releases related to electric vehicle strategies, concept cars, and some productions cars. Although the New York auto show had all thirty plus electric vehicles available for sale in the State on view, the Shanghai Auto Show were the place to be for electric vehicle enthusiast. The VW Group teased its Audi eTron SUV and VW I.D. CROZZ concepts, which is only expected by 2019. Tired of all these old auto companies releasing concept after the other without having real competition for the Tesla available? Two production ready vehicles from newcomers Lucid Motors and NextEV‘s NIO brand were unveiled at the Chinese event. NIO’s ES8 seven seater SUV is expected to be available in China by the end of the year. The company also announced that it would add ten more units to its fleet of six EP9 supercars, priced at $1.48 million.

Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety

Range anxiety is probably the most common hurdle to overcome for all new Electric Vehicle (EV) owners or prospective owners. Terms like “bricking”, used when your EV is as useful as a brick when running out of energy on the highway springs to mind. Well, I can certainly attest to the fear associated with range anxiety. I am test-driving my first EV next week, an awesome BMW i3, sponsored by the friendly folks at Forsdicks BMW Tygervalley.

The fear is keeping me up at night and remains with me in my waking hours over the last couple of days. The only time I experienced range anxiety in a diesel vehicle was when we took a safari in Botswana. We trekked for 3 weeks with no fuel available in a 600mile radius, and the fuel that was available was not of the required quality, clogging my fuel filter on the way back to Cape Town. But situations like that are extreme for most vehicle owners and they have to cast their minds back to a time when they were students to recall what range anxiety felt like. Having to fuel with the couple of cents that was left after a night out.

Questions like how far the distance between my office and home is, or how would rush hour traffic influence the vehicle’s range, consume my mind. Suddenly I also remember that the power in my house was not of the right amperage for the coffee machine I bought. At the time I did not know what it meant because I failed woodwork with Julius Malema. Now it’s all coming back to me, and I fully understand what amperage is, and that I sold the coffee machine for a reason – not having an amperage of 20amps on the plug points.

When I Googled “car charging stations in cape town” I had to scroll down on the result page, past Cape Cod and some other “Town’s” to find out that there are some in South Africa, being built in Sandton, a cool 1400km (875 miles) from where I live. How I wish I were back in San Francisco, where you had a better chance of finding a charging station than a petrol station in the city. When I did the calculations the BMW i3 would be perfect for my situation, it has a 128km (80 miles) range, which is more than enough for the 36.4km ONE WAY I have to travel to and from town. Suddenly my fear is amplified, as I realize it is equal to nearly 80km a day. What happens if the car is not fully charged when I leave home in the morning? I am also acutely aware that it is winter, and a battery loses its charge quicker in the cold.

Getting back to reality, and my date with a cool BMW i3 tomorrow. I recently read that a study by the US Department of Transport found that 95% of all single-trip journeys is below 50km (30 miles) and 98% below 80km (50 miles), with only 1% above 112km (70 miles). So it is clear that the vehicle manufacturers all targets this sweet spot with Tesla setting the benchmark on the longer distances, with a 400km (250 miles) distance.

I can also take comfort in the fact that BMW, the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world and its clever engineers will not design a product that will leave its driver’s with a car that is as useful as “brick”.

All I need to do to make the next week a great experience is to have a mind shift, from how vehicles were used up to now to how vehicles would be used from now into the future.

Follow my experience as a new EV driver with the BMW i3 over the next couple of days on and join the revolution.


Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen


Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is a energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.