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GM and ABB to Develop Projects for Re-Use of Volt Battery Packs

General Motors and ABB Group, a global leader in power and automation technologies, have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop pilot projects for re-using the batteries from the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle, examining whether the batteries may be a source for renewable energy that could improve the effectiveness of wind and solar power generation.

The two companies are collaborating to determine how the Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion batteries can be used to provide stationary electric grid storage systems once the batteries have fulfilled their usefulness in customers’ vehicles. The ultimate goal is to provide cost-effective, innovative solutions that will improve the efficiency of the country’s electrical grid.

Earlier this month, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation formed a new joint-venture to conduct research on the second-life use of lithium-ion batteries that have been used previously in electric cars. (Earlier post.)

The Volt’s battery will have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life. That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to enable the Volt batteries to provide environmental benefits that stretch far beyond the highway

—Micky Bly, GM Executive Director of Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries

Bly announced the partnership Tuesday at the EV Battery Tech conference in Troy, Michigan.

Future smart grids will incorporate a larger proportion of renewable energy sources and will need to supply a vast e-mobility infrastructure—both of which require a wide range of energy storage solutions.

—Bazmi Husain, head of ABB’s smart grids initiative

Engineers and researchers from both companies are working together to study:

  • Renewable Energy Storage: Power generated by wind and the sun can be stored in Volt battery systems and used when demand warrants.

  • Grid Load Management: Utilities will be able to use the Volt batteries to store electricity generated during off-peak periods to supplement demand during high-peak operation. This will help utilities to better manage the grid, improving reliability and efficiency.

  • Back-up Power Supplies for Communities: Volt battery systems can store electricity that can be used by communities during power outages caused by storms or other natural disasters.

  • Time of Use Management: Industrial customers can store off-peak, lower-priced electrical power in Volt batteries for use during peak demand time of day for cost savings.



In the sun belts these second hand batteries will be highly prized for residential solar storage. And depending on the residual value estimate - could be a key to low cost solar for residents.

We can expect to see a lively market for these used EV batteries that still have 5-10 additional years of duty potential. This means the residual value of a ten year old Volt/Leaf rises as the market for recycled batteries grows.


If you can get a resale market, it puts a real price on EVs. You replace the pack after 8 years and you get money back on the old pack, that lowers the total cost of ownership.

the doctor

I was wondering how they would get out of their dilemma. Most of the initial leaks of their charging algorithm indicated that an 8 year life was median, and "failures" would be occuring by the 5th year. But "failure" by their definition was failure to hold a charge, with range limitations happening as soon as 3 years on those used for the full 40 miles daily. They made the battery pack twice the size needed, and you dont have access to the full pack though it would give added range, they wanted range decay to be hidden as long as possible.
By having a "dump" program to support second hand use, they have an excuse to replace battery packs "early" instead of admitting they designed for a shorter life.


It is usually one or more cells that fail early. Since they can not just replace one cell, you get what you get.


"Most of the initial leaks of their charging algorithm indicated that an 8 year life was median, and "failures" would be occuring by the 5th year. "

This is nonsense, if the 8 year life is median then the warranty expenses would be horrendous.


Warranties are liabilities much like an insurance policy. I would imagine that the data supports a clearer picture inside the car maker. It is their choice to take that risk or not.


if the 8 year life is median then the warranty expenses would be horrendous.

At one point Bob Lutz said they provisioned for one full battery replacement per car during the warranty period. Of course Bob says a lot of things.


If SJC is correct in this case.
One would have to wonder 'If not, Why?'
any sealed pack should have the 'redundant cell disconnect chip' installed or have the ability to swap out the defective cells to obtain the maximum life.


They are unlikely to have redundant cells due to weight and cost. If you wanted to rebuild a worn pack, you would need to do it with cells that are just as worn. They will not bother rebuilding them. If they are functional but worn, they will sell them for garage UPS applications.


Depending on how old the pack is they may indeed swap out a defective cell if one develops. Since the new cell would likely have greater capacity than the old ones it simply would never be charged as high or drained as low as the others, which would not harm it at all.

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