GM eyeing ways to reuse Chevy Volt batteries

Automaker teaming up with ABB Group to explore whether batteries from the electric cars could be later used to store power generated by the wind and sun.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

A new project from General Motors will examine ways that Chevy Volt batteries could get a second life helping provide renewable energy.

The electric Chevy Volt is due out later this year. General Motors

Joining forces with power grid supplier ABB Group, GM will study whether it can reuse batteries that formerly powered Volt electric cars to store energy created by wind and solar power generators. The goal is to find cost-effective and creative ways to improve the efficiency of the country's electrical grid, the automaker said today in a statement. The Volt, priced at $41,000 before a federal tax credit, is set to launch later this year.

Specifically, the two companies will conduct research to learn if the Volt batteries can fill a number of different roles in helping deliver clean, efficient energy.

Among the possibilities? The batteries could be recruited as a renewable-energy source, storing power generated by the wind and sun and tapped when the need arises. Utilities might be able to use the Volt batteries to store electricity generated during off-peak times to help fill demand during higher-peak periods. The batteries could be used as power supplies for entire communities, housing electricity that can be called upon during power outages. Finally, the batteries may be able to store off-peak, less expensive electricity that businesses can use during peak demand, thereby cutting their energy costs.

The lithium ion battery used by the Chevrolet Volt comes with an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, which GM says is the longest in auto industry and is transferable to other vehicle owners at no additional cost. Even after the batteries have powered a Volt for several years, they could live on to provide energy to other sources.

"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, said in a statement. "We are excited to explore the possibility of employing electric car batteries in a second use that could help build needed storage capacity and provide far-reaching economic and environmental benefits."