Nissan is now using old Leaf battery packs in some of the robots that are helping to build the Leaf electric cars in the first place.
This is kind of cool!
For those who want electric cars to be a solution to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, the end-of-life of a battery pack is really important.
Companies are looking at several different solutions, from recycling to second-use. Nissan has been looking at many different applications for the latter.
We have seen the Japanese automaker use old Leaf battery packs for energy storage systems to power stadiums, in streetlights, and more.
Now Nissan might have found the coolest use of its old Leaf battery packs yet.
The automaker announced today that they are now using old Leaf battery modules in automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which are robots that deliver parts to workers in a car factory.
Nissan was already using Leaf battery modules for the vehicles, but it has now switched to used modules:
The first-generation LEAF was fitted with a 24-kilowatt-hour battery pack. These lithium-ion packs were made by combining 48 modules. About eight years ago, Nissan’s engineers found a way to take three of these modules, repackage them, and fit them inside an AGV. Last year, they took this idea to a new level by using repurposed battery modules, instead of new ones, to power AGVs.
The company is finding benefits to using the batteries in the robots:
AGVs with the lithium-ion batteries, new or repurposed, charge faster. Plus, workers no longer need to take out the batteries to plug them in. The AGVs simply stop momentarily at the charging station along their route and incrementally top up at each passing. This automation saves a great deal of time.
They also last a lot longer than the previous lead-acid batteries used in most AGVs today.
Nissan found itself replacing those batteries every one to two years and now even the repurposed Leaf batteries, which again were already used in cars, are expected to last “seven to eight years.”
The company released a video about the new project:
Finding valuable second uses for Leaf batteries also creates value to customers by increasing the value of their vehicles.
Masashi Matsumoto, who promotes the development of AGVs at Nissan’s Production Technology Research and Development Center, commented:
Our customers benefit too. When used EV batteries become more valuable, trade-in prices rise. With more ways to use batteries, the overall residual value of the LEAF has increased.
Nissan has been criticized for not using active thermal management in the Leaf battery pack, which often results in faster degradation and lower value retention for used Leafs. Things like this can help.
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