Occasionally, when a battery "dies" in an EV, it's still plenty capable of holding charge, just not as much as a car owner would like or need. The question of what to do with those batteries is at the front of Nissan's collective mind.
Nissan's data shows that its EV batteries will outlive its EVs by a decade or more, Automotive News Europe reported Thursday, citing comments from Francisco Carranza, managing director of Renault-Nissan's energy division. "We are going to have to recover those batteries," Carranza said during an ANE conference this week, adding that the company is currently investigating how to best use those batteries.
If the batteries themselves are viable for about 20 years, they should be put to use in some way. Last July, Nissan announced that it was using 148 Leaf batteries to create 3 megawatts of storage for Amsterdam's Johan Cruijff Arena, allowing it to generate solar power and save it for later use. All the way back in 2011, Nissan was looking into using old Leaf batteries to power solar EV charging stations.
Other automakers have made similar moves. Old Chevy Volt batteries act as a backup power source for a GM data center, since those batteries are rendered "unusable" in the car after losing just 20% of their net capacity. The batteries of Fiat's electric 500e batteries are recycled, with a separate company removing individual battery cells and reselling or repurposing them as necessary. Throwing these "dead" batteries out would be wasteful, not only in terms of materials but in terms of money.
EVs can give back even without having to donate their batteries, too. Automakers have been looking into ways for cars to contribute to the grid, offering some of their juice to balance loads during times where demand is high. ANE mentions a pilot program in Denmark that will actually pay EV owners to borrow some electrons when the grid is stressed. EVs are still relatively new, so while these might seem like problems for Future Us, it's better to get ahead of the issue before automakers are sitting on miles-high piles of batteries.