June 10, 2015 / 7:52 PM / 4 years ago

GM to announce secondary use for EV car batteries next week

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Wednesday it will announce a development in the secondary use for electric vehicle batteries next week, bringing more attention to the growing stationary energy storage market.

Unlike Tesla Motors, which last month unveiled a separate product for the stationary energy market, GM’s use will focus on extending the economic life of a battery after its use in an EV, according to the statement outlining plans for the announcement at an auto battery conference on Tuesday.

A GM spokesman declined to reveal further details about the announcement. The Detroit company has previously discussed redeveloping EV batteries for use in the energy grid.

In 2012, GM and Swiss engineering group ABB showed how they could repackage five used batteries from GM’s Chevrolet Volt hybrid plug-in car into a modular unit capable of providing two hours of electricity needed by three to five average American homes.

“GM’s battery development extends throughout the entire life of the battery, including secondary use,” Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager of battery lifecycle management, said in 2012.

“In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30 percent or less of its life has been used,” he added. “This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure before the battery is recycled.”

The energy storage industry is seen as a big profit driver in the future, expected to grow from just $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion by 2017, according to research firm IHS CERA.

Last month, Tesla unveiled stationary energy storage systems for homes, companies and utilities that would expand the company’s reach beyond electric vehicles and tap into the fastest growing area of the energy industry.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk later called demand for the products “off the hook” and said it could be a bigger business than selling cars. He has said Tesla expects to have a low but growing gross margin in battery products in the fourth quarter and added that battery products would be “materially profitable” some time next year.

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Leslie Adler

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