Nissan Motor Co. is planning to give Electric Vehicles batteries a new life after they pass their peak performance. Nissan set up a plant in a Namie, and the plant is expected to generate employment and revitalize the town ravaged by 2011 earthquake.
Electric Vehicles batteries are very costly, can account for up to one-fifth of the vehicle's cost and are made from costly materials like cobalt and nickel, which are expected to continue seeing a price increase. Global automakers are in a constant race of looking for ways to make their EVs cheaper and prolong the life of costly batteries.
The joint venture between Nissan and Sumitomo Corp, 4R Energy Corporation, will begin selling rebuilt replacement lithium-ion batteries in May. The batteries will only be produced for the Nissan's own first-generation leaf for now. The cost of these batteries would be almost half of brand new replacement batteries at around USD 2850 and would be sold only in Japan initially.
"By reusing spent EV batteries, we wanted to raise the (residual) value of EVs and make them more accessible," said Eiji Makino, CEO of 4R, which on Monday opened the plant in Namie.
Sumitomo has come up with a way to analyze all 48 modules contained in each battery pack in four hours, huge time savings from the 16 days Nissan engineers previously used for similar measurements. Modules with capacities above 80 percent are assigned for use in replacement Leaf batteries; lesser modules are reassembled and sold as batteries for forklifts, golf carts, and lower-energy applications such as streetlamps.
The plant can process 2,250 battery packs a year, and initially plans to refabricate "a few hundred" units annually, Makino said, adding that 4R would see whether the process could also be used for batteries from the latest Leaf model, which uses a different battery chemistry.