May 22

What Happens To That Old Volt or Ampera Battery?

 

The Chevrolet Volt and Opel/Vauxhall Ampera represent a new kind of powertrain for General Motors which the company has covered with an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty, but what happens to that expensive battery should it cause issues, or after its usable service life?

We’ve heard critical speculators say Volt owners will be in for a new battery shortly after the 8 years, or 100,000 miles (160,000 km) – whichever comes first – thus wiping away the savings offered by potentially bypassing the gas pump due to its ability to operate as a medium-range electric vehicle.

In short, there’s no reason to suspect this worst-case scenario will be the case.

12Volt-HOV

 

To begin with, the Volt/Ampera battery does not have a “die gene” imposing electrical rigor mortis on a car left in the hands of a hapless owner as soon as GM’s warranty liability period is over.

It is true the battery loses its charge holding capacity, but there’s reason to believe it’s over-engineered. It is thermally managed with liquid cooling and heating, and GM built in a “buffer” zone in which its battery management system never fully charges or discharges the pack. In fact, only 10 kilowatt-hours out of a total 16 are ever used as a means to preserving its longevity.

But according to GM’s Manager, Electric Vehicle and Hybrid Communications, Kevin Kelly, what GM has fully disclosed already is it does not quite know all the potential scenarios that could play out for aging Volt and Ampera batteries – but “we’re working diligently on it every day” he said of potential re-use scenarios and related questions.

By definition, GM considers the 16-kilowtt-hour Volt/Ampera battery to be at the end of its usable life cycle when it has around 70-percent charge-holding capacity. When exactly that threshold is reached could vary widely depending on climate, and how the vehicle is used – but what it also means is the battery is not useless after its “usable life.”

Post Retirement

 
 

If someone buys a Volt or Ampera and intends to run it till the proverbial wheels fall off, he or she will be faced eventually with a decision about the aging battery.

The greatest likelihood is someone will simply notice a progressive diminishing of its all-electric range. Newer Volt owners have reported range varying from around 25 miles in cold weather to just over 50 miles with gentle driving in perfect weather – batteries function best and “like” the same moderate weather humans do, and the Volt’s battery thermal management helps keep it closer to its ideal zone.

As one potential scenario, if someone normally gets, say, 38 miles electric range on an average day, and the battery became 75-percent worn out, the car might get only 28.5 miles electric range compared to when brand new. So no doubt, owners will see usable electric range drop over the years.

If they go well-beyond the warranty period – like 10-12 years or longer and well over 100,000 miles – the battery at some point will have probably degraded below its nominal “70-percent” usable life, but it still should have usable life – just not as much.

The good news is it won’t be an expensive-to-replace dead brick as some critics have implied. The not-as-good news is, the Volt/Ampera owner will benefit less from electric-only driving, which was a primary reason for buying the car.

The standard 8-year warranty averages to 12,500 miles driving per year. If the Volt/Ampera driver travels farther per year, naturally, the warranty will be exhausted sooner. When ever the end of “usable life” comes, again, it won’t be a definite end, but more a tapering off.

Future Unknown

 
 

Exactly what the most sensible decision will be for a future degraded battery, say, in 2020 is anyone’s guess – including GM’s – but that is why the company is researching and developing several possibilities now.

Kelly says the company has test Volts with well in excess of 200,000 miles still operating within spec which means the liquid-heated and cooled battery and related systems are engineered to at least go the distance in all climates.

But since this is a new kind of car in a nascent industry in which energy storage technology is developing – and battery prices are dropping on existing lithium-ion chemistries – Kelly says he cannot say what might be the best option at the end of the warranty period.

In as far away as eight years from now, it could be an upgraded original equipment retrofit, or the standard battery, which at present is the only recommended replacement.

How much would it cost?

“We don’t know that. We just don’t know that. Battery chemistries and battery technology is advancing at a rapid pace,” Kelly said. “We’re seeing the cost curve come down pretty significantly and we’re looking into other chemistries and other materials. We’re looking at ways to improve the value equation.”

If this kind of uncertainty alarms you, perhaps a Volt is not right for you, but that is not a conclusion GM would suggest, as it has a do-what-it-takes policy in place to help soften the potential edges of adapting to its new technology.

 


Opel Ampera.

Since the Volt’s launch, GM has offered white glove treatment for its early adopters better than Cadillac service. Consumer Reports rated the Volt as number one in owner satisfaction at 93 percent, currently placing it above all cars sold today.

During the recent publicity crisis in which the federal government was investigating the Volt’s battery, GM actually offered to buy back Volts from customers who were concerned for their safety; this move was considered above the call of duty, and Kelly said the company will continue to offer high levels of assurance all the way through the lifecycle of the Volt or Ampera in years to come.

That’s not saying GM is opening itself up to frivolous claims, but merely that it has policies and procedures in place to prevent Volt owners from coming out feeling like losers for having taken a chance on the car.

Should a battery need repair or replacement within warranty, by the way, Kelly said the company just contracted with Midtronics for tool that can “de-power” and service the Volt/Ampera battery.

The large T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack is comprised of LG Chem cells constructed in nine modules of varying capacities. Dealers authorized to work on the Volt/Ampera receive training on diagnosing its battery. In a warranty situation, dealers may replace modules or whole battery assemblies.

The policy is that should an entire battery be replaced, owners will get a new replacement battery. On the other hand if it is a repair scenario, the dealer is authorized to restore the battery to pro-rated performance levels on par with where the battery should have been at that point in its life. So, for example, if it is a four-year-old battery, a repair does not restore to new-spec charge holding capacity, but to a level on the anticipated wear curve for a normal four-year-old battery – exactly how much usable life is expected year after year of use is info that GM keeps confidential.

Unknown is whether aftermarketers would be in business to offer replacements.

Unknown is what value a used battery would have if an owner wanted to replace it, or how an owner would be credited or paid for a used battery that still has, say, 69-percent or less usable life in it. Kelly was unwilling to say what he thinks a used Volt/Ampera battery might be worth after so many years, but that it will have value is at least certain.

Of course all this becomes moot if someone leases the car, and simply turns it back in. Or, if longer-range, higher performance, electrified vehicles come down the pike as GM says they will, people may not even want to hold onto their old Volts.

So, as you might expect, also unknown is the used car market for first generation Volts a half decade or longer from now. Out of the gate, leasing companies have erred on the safe side, and projected lower values than might be expected for comparably priced gasoline cars.

Possibilties

 
 

While Volt/Ampera owners may opt in the future to replace their battery because its vehicle propulsion value is below acceptable, again, the used battery is not scrap, and GM is looking into ways to intelligently re-purpose the Volt/Ampera battery.

 


Research begun last year by GM predicts that secondary use of 33 Volt batteries will have enough capacity to power up to 50 homes for about four hours during a power outage.

One possible way is being worked on in collaboration with ABB Group. It and GM engineers are putting used Volt batteries back to work – with what capacity they have remaining – into energy storage devices for use by subdivisions, industrial parks, businesses or the like.

“GM’s battery leadership position doesn’t stop at the road – it extends throughout the life of the battery, including ways we can benefit society and the environment,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director – Global Electrical Systems, Electrification and Infotainment. “As we grow our battery systems expertise, we need to assure we’re optimizing the development of our battery systems with secondary use in mind from the start.

“Partnerships with organizations such as ABB provide real-world applications that prove what we’re doing is real, not fiction,” Bly said.

Kelly said later this year, GM and ABB will test a pilot project of re-purposed Volt batteries. This would involve reconfiguring the used modules, perhaps into squared shapes for mounting in a box sited at a facility, not merely re-using the entire Volt’s T-shaped pack which is shaped that way to fit the car.

Beyond this, Kelly said the company is looking at a number of different scenarios.


GM is even reusing scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers as wood duck and screech owl nesting boxes. More than 150 have been installed in designated wildlife habitat areas surrounding GM facilities, as well as various locations across the U.S.

Like its customers, GM has not traveled this path before. The upside is the Volt is showing a major payback unlike conventional cars, so the belief by those who buy them is it will all pan out.

In the meantime, Kelly reiterated GM intends to stand by its owners all the way through.

“We want them to be happy,” he said, as GM continues to develop its technology – and wants repeat business.

Given the way GM has treated its Volt customers to date, we have seen no reason to suspect its stated position is anything but true.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 48


  1. 1
    nasaman

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    May 22nd, 2012 (6:12 am)

    Intriguing subject, Jeff! And after watching the NASA feed of the 1st successful commercial Falcon 9 launch (into a stable orbit on the way to the ISS about 2 1/2 hours ago), I’m reminded of the terrific battery reliability concerns we all had early in the space program. (Yep, the Falcon 9 needs batteries on each of its 3 stages.) In the ’60′s, we hoped space batteries would last 3 years. As time passed & battery technology improved, that extended to 5, 7, 10, 15, 17 & 20 years. And as I said to a friend who’s a gm-volt.com member and an ecstatic Volt owner before he bought his 2011 Volt, I'll be very disappointed if his Volt's battery doesn't last at least 15 years*.

    /*GM & the Li-Ion industry knows much more than they’ll release about this —for example, the Li-Ion batteries used in all of the 500 million+ iPhones in use world wide are all hardwired into the phones and are pretty difficult to replace —yet nobody’s complaining!


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    Bob

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    May 22nd, 2012 (6:56 am)

    For one thing, you might be able to use the battery as a storage / backup solution for small wind and small solar. In other words, if you get a little wind turbine on your roof or some solar panels you could store the energy in this big battery while the wind is blowing / sun is out and then draw off of that power at night or when the wind is calm. Maybe you could even use it as a whole-house UPS — when the power goes out, your whole house can probably run off of a 70%-capacity Volt battery for several hours.


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    ziv

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    May 22nd, 2012 (7:47 am)

    I think that cabin owners especially will be buying up used Volt batteries. Like Bob says, put a small photovoltaic array on the roof of your cabin plus a small wind generator, hook them both to a Volt pack and you have the best of both worlds, solar to power your place in the daytime and wind to power the lights at night. Or how about a Volt pack powered house boat? Keep that lake quiet, boys!

    Nasaman, I was celebrating the minute I woke up, Spacex looks like they hit this one out of the park! I have read that Spacex will be able to get material into LEO for 1/4 to 1/10 the price of sending material via the shuttle, is that true? Regardless, great work by Elon’s crew! Now if they can get Falcon 9 man-rated!


  4. 4
    Loboc

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    May 22nd, 2012 (7:52 am)

    nasaman,

    Good point about iPhone. My model 4 is almost 2 years old and the capacity has *increased*. Probably due mostly to IOS improvements.

    Software tweaks in Volt could also have life-extending benefits. Or, could increase range.


  5. 5
    Tim Hart

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    May 22nd, 2012 (8:14 am)

    It’s exciting to consider all the future possibilities for our Volts. I’ve never been worried about battery replacement. I’m confident there will be a much better battery available to replace the original one at a very affordable price.


  6. 6
    flmark

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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:38 am)

    /*GM & the Li-Ion industry knows much more than they’ll release about this —for example, the Li-Ion batteries used in all of the 500 million+ iPhones in use world wide are all hardwired into the phones and are pretty difficult to replace —yet nobody’s complaining!

    Not so fast- there of those of us who DIDN’T buy the iphone for THIS VERY REASON. I go hunting in the woods and want to RELY on not running out of juice for GPS and emergency use. I keep a FULLY CHARGED SPARE BATTERY in my pocket at all times. The iphone is a NO GO for me. Not that this has much to do with the Volt, but you clicked on a hot button for me. I don’t know how many practical folks there are like me out there who do care that the Apple Cult forgot that this might be important to some folks, but having spare, charged batteries can come in handy when you are traveling and a plug is not convenient. You can surf away all you want and not worry about a dead phone. You can have superior battery technology and STILL make it hot swappable if you actually care about the utility of the customer, instead of desiring them to be subservient- and addicted to the brand.


  7. 7
    ronr64

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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:40 am)

    I know exactly how I would want to use my old battery. In my house for a UPS in conjunction with a solar system. Even if there were concerns in keeping it in the house sans the elaborate cooling system GM has in place with the Volt that wouldn’t be a problem. I would keep it in a garden shed and worst case I would lose a bunch of rakes and such if something went amiss…


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    kdawg

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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:48 am)

    What about refurbishing the batteries by flushing the electrolyte? GM filed a patent for this, but haven’t hear much more about it.


  9. 9
    Flipper

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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:53 am)

    flmark: I go hunting in the woods

    Electric ATV sales to hunters are growing through the roof. Now you can sneak right up to the game, run it over to save a bullet or if you forgot your gun, and have enough torque to pull out a bison without cutting it up on site and recharge at the powered hunting cabin miles from any gas station. The military likes ‘em too, who knows why.

    http://www.goalzero.com/

    Also, electric can save you from zombies:

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1076358_2012-chevrolet-volt-saving-you-from-zombies-in-electric-safety

    It takes getting lots of real product in real consumers’ hands and on the roads (and in the woods) to start to find out what the real benefits are.


  10. 10
    kdawg

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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:54 am)

    nasaman: iPhones in use world wide are all hardwired into the phones and are pretty difficult to replace —yet nobody’s complaining!

    I have friends that bitch about replacing their Iphone batteries

    flmark: Not so fast- there of those of us who DIDN’T buy the iphone for THIS VERY REASON. I go hunting in the woods and want to RELY on not running out of juice for GPS and emergency use. I keep a FULLY CHARGED SPARE BATTERY in my pocket at all times. The iphone is a NO GO for me. Not that this has much to do with the Volt, but you clicked on a hot button for me. I don’t know how many practical folks there are like me out there who do care that the Apple Cult forgot that this might be important to some folks, but having spare, charged batteries can come in handy when you are traveling and a plug is not convenient. You can surf away all you want and not worry about a dead phone. You can have superior battery technology and STILL make it hot swappable if you actually care about the utility of the customer, instead of desiring them to be subservient- and addicted to the brand.

    You can get an external battery for an Iphone.

    41uOfpHVLKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg


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    Open-Mind

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    May 22nd, 2012 (10:45 am)

    According to the article a new Volt uses 62.5% (10KWh/16KWh) of its battery capacity each cycle. I’m wondering which scenario plays out over the years as the battery decays:

    1) The computer tries to use 10KWh if available, over time using 100% of the battery capacity as the denominator gets smaller each year. This would provide full electric range for several years until the 100% mark is reached, then after that, range would decrease fairly rapidly.

    2) The computer tries to use 62.5% of the remaining battery capacity, whatever that capacity is. This would provide an electric range that slowly decreases by a small amount each year, but probably starting the first year.

    3) Some combination of the above.


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    BLIND GUY

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    May 22nd, 2012 (11:38 am)

    I am hoping in 5-10 years the battery chemistry will enable the batteries to perform in a wider temperature zone without the need for a thermal management system. For second use purposes; how will people activate the TMS in the Volts battery pack to benefit most from the remaining capacity? It will be interesting to see at that time if it will be worth adapting to the needs of the battery pack for optimal use or if it makes more sense to simply recycle the raw materials and use state-of-the-art batteries for most-all applications at that time.
    In the future; instead of larger, heavier batteries for long distance travel, I think on-the-move induction charging on EV toll lanes could make travel over 100 miles convenient JMO. Imagine going 100 mph without having to stop to charge and the vehicle can follow the lane on complete auto-pilot threw redundant methods.


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    kdawg

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    May 22nd, 2012 (11:39 am)

    Open-Mind,

    My guess is that it tries to use 10KWH for as long as possible (guaranteeing the range), and increases the percentage as time goes on, until some threshold is reached where it’s not practical/safe to dig any deeper into the battery. Maybe the safe reserve is set at 10%. So at the point where it takes 90% of the battery to get 10KWH out of it, your range starts dropping.

    Just my SWAG.


  14. 14
    Energy Tyrant

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:06 pm)

    I think there’s a point to be made here: everything wears out.

    And if, after 8 years, you’re still getting 25-30 miles worth of service out of the battery, be honest — is that ‘worn out’, or is that remarkable?

    It would still be a great value to those whose daily commute averaged less than 30 miles per day.

    And as far as alternative uses go — even at 70 percent total capacity, that is a massive amount of power. Just considering the large (and rapidly growing) solar industry, there will be enough power storage demand in that industry alone to snap these things up.


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    pjkPA

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:23 pm)

    Very good article Jeff… we need more education.
    It’s very hard to explain these facts with all the misinformation going around.
    This article does a good job of educating and setting the facts straight.

    I still find myself trying to explain these facts to misinformed people who still can’t believe the Volt facts.. they find it easier to believe misinformation.

    It would be interesting to know what GM is working on as far as CUV Voltec.


  16. 16
    nasaman

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:35 pm)

    kdawg: I have friends that bitch about replacing their Iphone batteries

    You can get an external battery for an Iphone.

    Thnx for this tip, kdawg! I found one that looks very similar to your photo —but is from Apple— at amazon.com for $6.48 +w/no shipping. (The cheaper ones amazon sells have somewhat questionable customer ratings.) Maybe this 1900Ma ext battery will make more sense than opening & unsoldering/
    resoldering a new (possibly more expensive) internal battery. Actually, I’ve always assumed Apple thinks iPhone owners will likely upgrade to a newer technology phone before their battery fails. In any case, the >500,000 apps (many free or 99c) are a real temptation to potential iPhone owners.

    /Sorry, folks —I didn’t want to make this thread about iPhone batteries! :(


  17. 17
    Noel Park

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:43 pm)

    Tim Hart:
    It’s exciting to consider all the future possibilities for our Volts. I’ve never been worried about battery replacement. I’m confident there will be a much better battery available to replace the original one at a very affordable price.

    #5

    My sentiments exactly. +1

    It’s going to be an interesting ride. I’m planning on driving my Volt as far as it will go, and I’m looking forward to the adventure and seeing what develops. I think that all of us “early adopters” had to know that we were in for a few twists and turns.

    As I said once before, if anyone had told me even 5 years ago that I would be driving an electric car today I would have laughed in their face and told them they were crazy. So who can tell what will happen in another 5 – 10 years?


  18. 18
    Noel Park

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:49 pm)

    Obviously, there is a massive potential market for electricity storage coming as more solar and wind capacity comes on line. I read a long time ago that PG&E was experimenting with used Prius batteries as a resource for same. And think how much more capable the Volt battery is. If it can be made cost effective, one would have to think that there is a potential use out there for every used EV battery which will come available for years into the future.

    I was particularly interested in the mention of reconfiguring the cell from the Volt pack into a more convenient shaped pack.

    What a refreshing commentary on GM’s attitude around this whole field.


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    Noel Park

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:53 pm)

    Energy Tyrant: Just considering the large (and rapidly growing) solar industry, there will be enough power storage demand in that industry alone to snap these things up.

    #14

    Well you beat me to it there, LOL. +1

    Sorry if I restated the obvious, but what you are saying is clearly totally right. And it works for the large (and rapidly growing) wind power industry as well.


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    HaroldC

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    May 22nd, 2012 (12:55 pm)

    How many years of use would you get out of the volt battery to get to the same electric range as a new PIP ?
    Then you would be on equal terms….no?
    Just a thought …..
    HarolC


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    volt11

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (1:27 pm)

    Can you cite a reference for the 10KW/h real use? I thought it was 12 KW/h? That’s certainly the amount it usually takes to recharge it, and I didn’t think the charging efficiency was that bad.


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    Open-Mind

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (1:35 pm)

    nasaman: Maybe this 1900Ma ext battery will make more sense than opening & unsoldering/resoldering a new (possibly more expensive) internal battery.

    Battery replacement on recent iPhones does *not* require any soldering, and there are detailed instructions available on how to do it:

    http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing-iPhone-4-Battery/3141/1#.T7vMkMX7TJg


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    nasaman

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    May 22nd, 2012 (1:57 pm)

    Open-Mind: Battery replacement on recent iPhones does *not* require any soldering, and there are detailed instructions available on how to do it:

    http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing-iPhone-4-Battery/3141/1#.T7vMkMX7TJg

    I stand corrected (re: iPhone 4). But removing/replacing those 3 extremely tiny “00″ screws, etc, etc (watch the video) still doesn’t appeal to me —I’m ordering the much cheaper plug-in battery instead.

    OT PS to my post #1 —thanks to Marty Lewis from Vero Beach, FL for this gorgeous shot of this morning’s history-making Falcon 9 launch (all 3 Falcon 9 stages use hi-rel batteries):
    403384_10150978417853384_54514363383_11986401_1050277218_n.jpg


  24. 24
    Jackson

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    May 22nd, 2012 (2:06 pm)

    There are so many possibilities when it comes to re-using new technology car batteries outside of the car.

    Used packs will probably be dismembered into cells, but these can also be graded, re-directed for different uses, and reassembled into packs of almost any size (down to one or two cells as well as up to neighborhood UPS-size).

    From “V” grade being best (“Vehicle Grade”) you might come to “A” (suitable for high-value UPS and off-grid storage), “B” (good enough for consumer devices which would be too expensive otherwise), “C” (last dregs for commodity energy storage in vast numbers) … and finally ending up with “R” (recycle for lithium and other constituents). After the letter designations would come a numerical reference for available Kwh expected for that use-class.

    This scenario could make all sorts of interesting things happen. Imagine a small brick which you would plug into an outlet in your home, and use to power a few devices in a room: a lamp, a fan, a couple of chargers or power supplies. It could be more than a UPS: it might do some tiny-scale load leveling by charging in the middle of the night for use during the day.

    Some household devices we might not think of could come with cells unobtrusively included; allowing some items to be carried room to room while still operating.

    My personal favorite: a replacement for all those smelly, loud, problematic lawn devices which many of us struggle with every summer. A reasonable size pack could run an electric push-mower for a large yard, and (by providing AC for it’s motor) also serve as a portable power source for conventional plug-in tools such as edgers or hedge trimmers. Wheeling up to your hedge with the mower and plugging in a short cord would sure beat the heck out of stringing and managing 100′ or more of cable. As a bonus, keeping the device charged when not in use would give additional value as an emergency power supply.

    Electric cars will enable whole new paradigms for energy use off the road, as battery industries first build to meet high volumes efficiently, and then re-manufacture of used cells for use outside of the automotive markets.


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    kdawg

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    May 22nd, 2012 (2:07 pm)

    Noel Park: As I said once before, if anyone had told me even 5 years ago that I would be driving an electric car today I would have laughed in their face and told them they were crazy. So who can tell what will happen in another 5 – 10 years?

    I want the flying cars I was promised :)

    No, this does not count.

    flying-car-m400.jpg


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    May 22nd, 2012 (2:11 pm)

    Noel Park: Obviously, there is a massive potential market for electricity storage coming as more solar and wind capacity comes on line.

    One of the guys I deal with, also deals with the LG guys over in Holland MI. He said they are looking into grid storage options now. I know A123 has already been doing this for some time. I’m sure LG also sees the writing on the wall. It should be big business.


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    May 22nd, 2012 (2:21 pm)

    Jackson: My personal favorite: a replacement for all those smelly, loud, problematic lawn devices which many of us struggle with every summer. A reasonable size pack could run an electric push-mower for a large yard

    I almost bought a battery-electric lawnmower last month, but then I got the old gas one working again. The battery ones are under $300. You can mow later at night too and not disturb your neighbors. Currently they are not for big lawns, but you could maybe do a battery swap (where’s Project Better Lawn?)

    I was thinking old batteries would be good for power backup at homes, vs. turning on a gas generator. Also good for camping (quieter which to me is what camping is about. But i still like to use electricity, LOL).


  28. 28
    Jackson

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (2:51 pm)

    kdawg: I was thinking old batteries would be good for power backup at homes, vs. turning on a gas generator. Also good for camping (quieter which to me is what camping is about. But i still like to use electricity, LOL).

    So many other people have already covered the subject of power backup, I restricted my
    comments to the “brick,” which would allow people to 'just get their toes wet' for a lot less money. The "brick" could also be carried on a camping trip, but only for what my hiker friends derisively call "car camping" (it’s likely to be a bit heavy for hikers, even with Li/Ion. Then again, would hiker-snobs lower themselves to electricity use? ;-) ).

    kdawg: I almost bought a battery-electric lawnmower last month, but then I got the old gas one working again. The battery ones are under $300. You can mow later at night too and not disturb your neighbors. Currently* they are not for big lawns

    My point on the electric mower is that they would be so much more powerful that current models would seem rather quaint (because good used Li/Ion could store much more power).

    *I see what you did there. :-)


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    Jackson

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    May 22nd, 2012 (3:22 pm)

    Tim Hart: I’m confident there will be a much better battery available to replace the original one at a very affordable price.

    I am sure there will be those who will want to stretch the envelope with newer batteries:

    “Old Volts never die … they just go farther.”

    With software and better batteries who knows what really competent enthusiasts will attempt? For this, as well as for aftermarket batteries, I doubt much help will be forthcoming from GM. A manufacturer would far rather sell you a new car.

    Of course, we’re talking about Volts which have exceeded their warranties, so there might be little the company can do to temper future Volt-modder enthusiasm. It’s a cinch that any rebuild shop in the future will have a gifted programmer/hacker on staff …


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    May 22nd, 2012 (4:32 pm)

    Jackson: There are so many possibilities when it comes to re-using new technology car batteries outside of the car.

    My personal favorite:a replacement for all those smelly, loud, problematic lawn devices which many of us struggle with every summer.A reasonable size pack could run an electric push-mower for a large yard, and (by providing AC for it’s motor) also serve as a portable power source for conventional plug-in tools such as edgers or hedge trimmers.Wheeling up to your hedge with the mower and plugging in a short cord would sure beat the heck out of stringing and managing 100′ or more of cable.As a bonus, keeping the device charged when not in use would give additional value as an emergency power supply.

    I remember this idea from a previous thread.
    Good idea Jackson.


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    George S. Bower

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (4:41 pm)

    nasaman:

    OT PS to my post #1 —thanks to Marty Lewis from Vero Beach, FL for this gorgeous shot of this morning’s history-making Falcon 9 launch (all 3 Falcon 9 stages use hi-rel batteries):

    This great news about the success of this flight. It was very important from a PR point of view. A failure would just have been fodder for all the congressmen that oppose letting private venture do some of NASA’s work for them.

    It completely baffles me that some Republicans are opposed the this. So let’s see…..It’s OK to privatize social security (since it’s a Republican idea) but it’s NOT OK to privatize some of NASA’s work in order to save money.

    Oh gee, silly me. I forgot, the only reason they are opposed to it is that it was an Obama idea. If it had been a Republican idea then they would have been all for it.


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    Noel Park

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    May 22nd, 2012 (4:42 pm)

    #23 nasaman,

    What an awesome photo. All credit to the photographer. Thanks. +1


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    May 22nd, 2012 (4:50 pm)

    Jackson: My point on the electric mower is that they would be so much more powerful that current models would seem rather quaint (because good used Li/Ion could store much more power).

    I don’t know what the energy density difference is between the current Li Ion lawn mowers and the LG cells that GM uses. If you want to spend some more $, you can get a an electric lawnmower w/some more balls.

    http://www.mowersdirect.com/Recharge-Mower-PMLI-20-Lawn-Mower/p8782.html


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    May 22nd, 2012 (4:56 pm)

    kdawg: I don’t know what the energy density difference is between the current Li Ion lawn mowers and the LG cells that GM uses.If you want to spend some more $, you can get a an electric lawnmower w/some more balls.

    http://www.mowersdirect.com/Recharge-Mower-PMLI-20-Lawn-Mower/p8782.html

    only .36 kwh
    seems like you’d need at least 1 kwh

    I know, lets add a fuel cell range extender and make it a rider.


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    Flipper

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    May 22nd, 2012 (5:46 pm)

    flmark: Not so fast- there of those of us who DIDN’T buy the iphone for THIS VERY REASON.I go hunting in the woods and want to RELY on not running out of juice for GPS and emergency use.I keep a FULLY CHARGED SPARE BATTERY in my pocket at all times.The iphone is a NO GO for me.Not that this has much to do with the Volt, but you clicked on a hot button for me.I don’t know how many practical folks there are like me out there who do care that the Apple Cult forgot that this might be important to some folks, but having spare, charged batteries can come in handy when you are traveling and a plug is not convenient.You can surf away all you want and not worry about a dead phone.You can have superior battery technology and STILL make it hot swappable if you actually care about the utility of the customer, instead of desiring them to be subservient- and addicted to the brand.

    Here’s a solution looking for a problem:

    http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/301522,sony-unveils-wind-up-usb-battery-charger-for-smartphones.aspx


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    Noel Park

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (6:02 pm)

    Flipper: Here’s a solution looking for a problem:

    #35

    Too funny, LOL. +1


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    DonC

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (6:36 pm)

    nasaman: I said to a friend who’s a gm-volt.com member and an ecstatic Volt owner before he bought his 2011 Volt, I’ll be very disappointed if his Volt’s battery doesn’t last at least 15 years*.

    Andrew Farah has been quoted as guessing the life to be 12 years in Arizona like heat and 15 years in Michigan heat. Other rumors have 20 years being discussed.


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    May 22nd, 2012 (7:58 pm)

    DonC: Andrew Farah has been quoted as guessing the life to be 12 years in Arizona like heat and 15 years in Michigan heat. Other rumors have 20 years being discussed.

    Thanks for this comment, Don. It reminds me of a face-to-face chat with Andrew several years ago (before the Volt detailed design effort had really gotten underway) in which I argued that GM should set a goal of a 15+ yr battery lifetime, which had been achieved in the harsh environment of space.

    /OT: My new iPhone 1900ma plug-in battery (see post #16) ordered just this afternoon for ~1/3rd the cost of a new 1400ma internal battery & needing no installation, has already been shipped (free)


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    George S. Bower

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (8:44 pm)

    DonC: Andrew Farah has been quoted as guessing the life to be 15 years in Michigan heat..

    What Michigan heat??


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    DonC

     

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    May 22nd, 2012 (8:47 pm)

    George S. Bower: What Michigan heat??

    Ha ha! I think that’s the point! But Michigan probably gets hotter than where I am. A lot colder too. LOL


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    May 22nd, 2012 (8:50 pm)

    nasaman: It reminds me of a face-to-face chat with Andrew several years ago (before the Volt detailed design effort had really gotten underway) in which I argued that GM should set a goal of a 15+ yr battery lifetime

    I think that as they test the batteries more they’re finding that they outperform their expectations. Also note that the CA cars come with a longer battery warranty but not a higher price tag. That’s a very good indicator that GM isn’t sweating battery life, at least not outside AZ.


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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:20 pm)

    DonC: Ha ha! I think that’s the point! But Michigan probably gets hotter than where I am. A lot colder too. LOL

    Yeh but if you check this out,, Scotty’s ashes went into orbit today.(Star Trek)

    They are going to increase the price for Captn Kirks ashes. (He’s gotten a little heavy)
    http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2012/5/22/star_trek_scottys_ashes_beamed_up.htm


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    May 22nd, 2012 (9:48 pm)

    DonC: That’s a very good indicator that GM isn’t sweating battery life, at least not outside AZ.

    It depends about where in AZ.
    Phx is hot.
    but Flag, Sedona , Prescott, Pine , Payson are all of a temperate climate.


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    May 22nd, 2012 (10:49 pm)

    nasaman:
    /OT: My new iPhone 1900ma plug-in battery (see post #16) ordered just this afternoon for ~1/3rd the cost of a new 1400ma internal battery & needing no installation, has already been shipped (free)

    More O/T:

    That iPhone is so “old tech”. The newer Android models have evrything the Apple phones have, plus their batteries are replaceable and the screens are AMOLED. For less than $20 I have two extra 1.5 Ah batteries plus a docking/recharging station for my Samsung Galaxy S.

    Raymond


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    May 22nd, 2012 (11:46 pm)

    Raymondjram: More O/T:

    That iPhone is so “old tech”. The newer Android models have evrything the Apple phones have, plus their batteries are replaceable and the screens are AMOLED. For less than $20 I have two extra 1.5 Ah batteries plus a docking/recharging station for my Samsung Galaxy S.

    Raymond

    I agree, Raymond! But for me there were a few “mitigating factors”: Along with over 500,000 apps, most of which are either free or about 99 cents, my iPhone can shoot fairly good still photos & video and send them anywhere in the world over the internet. It can also tune over 50,000 of the world’s radio stations, record/play hours of extremely high-fidelity music, locate/plot my position anywhere in the world using GPS, deposit a check to my bank without visiting or telephoning the bank, analyze my sleep patterns scientifically, provide doctors (& me) vast medical references on drugs, diseases, etc, etc. Oh, and it also works as a world-wide phone (I use mine in place of a wired home phone, as >1/4th of all US households do, which saves me almost $100/mo). And it fits in a man’s shirt pocket so comfortably you hardly know it’s there!

    Ohhh… and did I mention my mobile provider upgraded me from an ordinary cell phone (which of course extended my contract another 2 yrs) at a good price …FREE?! So, “to each his own”, I guess.


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    May 23rd, 2012 (9:01 am)

    16kWr @ 70% is still 11.2kWh, which is more than the system will allow you to use; shouldn’t you still be seeing 50mpc in excellent weather?


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    Darius

     

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    May 25th, 2012 (3:20 am)

    I think one of the most promissing Volt modification could be battery assembly modification making it more convinient of active element change with new ones or even more advanced. Lithium cell price (cost) is not dominating in the overal battery cost. But replacement requires lot of work hours and very costly.


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    Brice Serandos

     

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    Jun 2nd, 2012 (3:25 am)

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