Finding Life Left in Electric Car Batteries

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What happens to electric car batteries when they’re too worn out for driving duty? Nissan and American Electric Power are working on ways to give old electric car batteries a new lease on life.

  • Electric vehicle batteries usually have a lifespan of 10 years, or 150,000-200,000 miles.
  • Nissan and American Electric Power are conducting a pilot program to reuse old EV battery packs.
  • The program helps feed power back to the grid and reduce energy storage costs.

The electric car revolution is going to change how we drive, and potentially how we light up our homes and offices. According to this Bloomberg report, Nissan Motor Company and American Electric Power (AEP), an electric utility firm based in Columbus, Ohio, have teamed to find new ways to reuse old car batteries. The goal is to lower the price of long-term power storage and lessen the strain on existing grids.

In this case, the batteries being reused served an initial role powering Nissan’s electric-powered Leaf hatchback. On sale in the U.S. since 2010, the first-generation Leaf was powered by a 107-hp electric motor and had approximately 100 miles of driving range. Today, the Leaf has 147-214 horsepower, depending on the chosen trim, and a maximum range of 246 miles in the newly introduced Leaf Plus variant.

The original Nissan Leaf arrived for the 2011 model year. Batteries from these early models are now being used to find ways to improve energy storage. (Photo: Nissan)

Nissan and AEP are taking older Leaf batteries and working to apply them to industrial applications. A pilot program is underway in Ohio, though engineering input has come from as far afield as Japan and Australia. Working with Melbourne-based Relectrify, a specialist in reusing electric car batteries for energy storage, the project could apparently reduce energy costs by nearly one-half their current level.

Nissan is just one of many automakers looking for creative and cost-efficient ways to repurpose EV batteries, once their working life in a car comes to an end. Nissan itself has looked at a variety of means to reuse car batteries, including the electrification of streetlights in the town of Namie, Japan. The project was undertaken as part of a rebuilding effort following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked the region back in 2011.


Electric cars have zero emissions, but not zero waste. Finding an economical home for old EV batteries is going to be vital as they gain in popularity around the world.

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