Automotive

Nissan gives first-gen Leaf EV batteries new life in robot helpers

Nissan gives first-gen Leaf EV...
Nissan has announced that the automated guided vehicles used to deliver components to works at its car plants are now powered by second-life batteries from the first generation Leaf electric car
Nissan has announced that the automated guided vehicles used to deliver components to works at its car plants are now powered by second-life batteries from the first generation Leaf electric car
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Diagram showing the automated guided vehicles in operation at a Nissan plant
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Diagram showing the automated guided vehicles in operation at a Nissan plant
The automated guided vehicles deliver components to workers of the factory floor
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The automated guided vehicles deliver components to workers of the factory floor
Nissan has announced that the automated guided vehicles used to deliver components to works at its car plants are now powered by second-life batteries from the first generation Leaf electric car
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Nissan has announced that the automated guided vehicles used to deliver components to works at its car plants are now powered by second-life batteries from the first generation Leaf electric car
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Nissan began producing the first generation Leaf battery electric car at its Oppama plant in 2010, and has now giving old battery packs from those vehicles a second life in automated guided vehicles at the factory.

The robotic haulers follow a predetermined path around the factory floor thanks to magnetic tracks to deliver components to workers so that they don't have to wander away looking for a missing part, and can focus on the job at hand. The Oppama plant has more than 700 of these automated guided vehicles (AGVs) in operation, and more than 4,000 running in factories around the globe.

These delivery bots were originally powered by lead-acid batteries that needed replacing every year, but Nissan reports that about eight years ago, engineers managed to take lithium ion battery modules from the 24-kWh battery pack at the heart of the first generation Leaf, and repackage them for use in the AGVs.

Those were new batteries though. Now the company has begun using repurposed modules that still have life in them, but can no longer efficiently power an electric car. The repurposed battery modules are expected to last seven to eight years in the AGVs.

Charging stations are located at key points throughout the factory, and as the AGVs zip around the factory floor, they briefly stop for a quick top up. The idea being that their batteries will get more and more charge as they stop at charging stations strategically positioned along the route.

Nissan is now looking at ways to retire the magnetic tracks in favor of more advanced autonomous navigation systems for the AGVs.

Of course Nissan is not the only automotive company looking to find a good use for second life batteries, Renault, Volvo, BMW and others have also looked at ways to re-use batteries from electric vehicles. But there's something quite poetic about using old EV batteries to power bots that help in the manufacture of new electric cars.

Source: Nissan

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2 comments
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I don't know where Nissan is getting their old batteries from but it's not at your local dealership. They offer no battery replacement service.
ADVENTUREMUFFINffin
Ditto. I have been very disappointed in Nissan designing a car that cant be affordably upgraded with a new or improved battery. My 2013 1st gen Leaf, with 60K miles, sits on the sideline while my Toyota Prius carries me for trips over 50 miles distance. Nissan should be replacing these batteries at an affordable rate taking new technology in place least they develop a reputation as a "single use" car with a max life of 60 to 100K miles.