AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Utilities Could Lease EV Batteries

June 30th, 2008 at 4:03pm

As heard on
WWJ Newsradio 950

Listen to this story:

Plug-in hybrids with lithium-ion batteries are going to be really expensive, but there could be a clever way of cutting the cost.

A plug-in hybrid car with 40 miles range of pure electric power is going to need a lithium-ion battery pack that costs about $10,000.

But it turns out that after those batteries hit their lifetime expectancy in cars, they can still store 80 percent of the electricity they’re designed to hold. And that has attracted the attention electric utilities. They could yank these things out of hybrids and daisy chain them together to make big electric storage depots.

Then, during nighttime, when electric utilities have excess capacity, they could make electricity and store it in those batteries, and then draw that electricity out during the day for peak demand. So plug-in hybrid owners might only lease those batteries for the time they use them, or even sell them to the utilities, and that could cut the cost dramatically.

3 Comments to “AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Utilities Could Lease EV Batteries”

  1. William R. Walling Says:

    “This suggestion I do appreciate and support, not for typically surmised reasons.”
    Have a solution for rapid, repeatable, reliable ICE starts without ‘ether’ derived solutions.
    ‘Old school’ technologies still work well …

  2. Tom Martin Says:

    The lease is a marketing stunt. Rather than price an electric like the Volt at $35K, GM could sell it for $25K less the battery, and lease the battery for $100/month for 10 years or 120K, whichever comes first.

    Many people would buy the $25K car, that would not buy a $35K car, even though over the life of the owner, the total cost would be similar between buying or leasing the battery.

  3. Tom Martin Says:

    My understanding of how the utility companies would use the batteries is different.

    The utility would not yank the batteries out of cars.

    They would ask electric car owners to keep their cars plugged in at all times. The utility would charge the car at night. If the car is plugged in during peak demand, the utility may depleat 20-25% of the charge directly from the car’s battery.

    For the locales where electricity costs different during the day, there’s the possibility that car owners would earn money. They may charge their car in the evening at $.07/kwh, and sell the power back at the higher day rate.

    There’s at least a couple problems. First, one may get in their car to discover that it’s only 75% charged.

    Second, the daily charging/discharging of the battery may harm battery life.

    Third, the utility company needs to build a way to control the charging/discharing of the battery.