At the COP21 climate change summit currently taking place in Paris, a one-of-a-kind prototype Renault delivery van powered by second-life batteries taken from decommissioned electric cars is being showcased. The project is part of an initiative to show how used electric vehicle (EV) batteries can be repurposed before full recycling.
The Renault Trafic EV was created by Paris-based startup Carwatt in partnership with Renault, the Paris City Council, BPI France, the Alès École des Mines Engineering School, and the Bobigny Business Campus. The van was formerly a diesel-powered Renault Trafic that has been converted to electric using batteries recycled from Renault electric cars.
Over time, EV batteries degrade and slowly lose their storage capacity. Cars like the Renault Twizy or the Nissan Leaf can have their batteries degrade to 75 or 80 percent of capacity inside of a decade, depending on usage cycles. The more often an electric vehicle is charged and discharged (used), the faster its battery will degrade, with other factors, such as time, fluctuating environmental conditions, etc. also playing a part. Eventually, those batteries need to be replaced.
The Carwatt idea is to put them to use as batteries in other electric vehicles, namely in urban commercial vehicles like the Trafic delivery van. Carwatt says that "the whole-lifecycle battery value is optimized through successive usages." The company is also conducting experiments on the potential for used batteries in power storage applications, which is something Nissan is already exploring with old Leaf batteries.
The Paris City Council and Carwatt estimate that 94 percent of the city's urban delivery vehicles are currently diesel-powered and by converting them to electric when the lifecycle of the combustion engine is through, it would be possible to not only help clean the city's air, but to lower costs as well. Carwatt and the Paris City Council will be experimenting with Renault commercial vehicles converted to EV operation during 2016.