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EV BATTERIES BMW enters into partnership to give EV batteries a second life

Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

BMW Group UK, including MINI, has entered into a new partnership with the firm Off Grid Energy to give a second life to BMW and MINI electric batteries from the brands’ PHEVs and EVs, which will be adapted to create mobile power units.

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BMW and MINI electric vehicle prototypes.
BMW and MINI electric vehicle prototypes.
(Source: BMW UK Group)

With BMW planning to scale up its Electric Vehicle (EV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) fleet over the next few years, which will include the BMW iX3, there will be a whole lot of batteries reaching the end of their useful lives in cars. However, that doesn’t mean that the batteries are entirely useless; they could be used in ‘second life’ applications rather than go to waste.

BMW recognizes this, and that’s why the company has recently announced that it will supply the UK clean energy provider Off Grid Energy with used battery modules, which the firm will adapt to create mobile power units.

A sustainable way to re-use batteries

The batteries found in BMW and MINI EVs have a warranty of eight years (100,000 miles). After this time, the battery could still retain up to 80 percent of its initial capacity.

Even at this point, the battery will still remain effective for a number of years in the vehicle, but there will come a point where a replacement becomes necessary. Once this happens and the battery has degraded to the point where it’s no longer of any use in an electric vehicle, it can still serve as a mobile power source for other applications.

In a statement, BMW UK’s CEO, Graeme Grieve, said: “BMW Group will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023 – half of them fully electric. We are delighted to work with Off Grid Energy to find a sustainable way of continuing to use these valuable batteries, even after they have put in many years of service in our electrified cars.”

BMW claims to have developed a prototype unit that’s powered entirely by used lithium-ion battery modules from a MINI Electric development vehicle. According to BMW, this prototype unit has 40kWh capacity and delivers a 7.2kW fast charge. Throughout the course of the next year, this prototype unit will be featured at BMW and MINI UK events.

As more used battery modules become available, more systems will be built with a capacity of up to 180kWh and will be able to provide charges at rates of up to 50kW says BMW.

It’s still early days

Obviously, right now even older BMW EVs are relatively young, which means there are very few batteries available for use in ‘second life’ applications—it’s still very early days.

When the supply of degraded BMW EV batteries does begin to increase, however, Off Grid Energy will be ready. The company is already planning to scale up its charging system in time and plans to build an off-grid charger with up to 180kWh of capacity. This will provide several chargers capable of delivering power equivalent to that of a public fast charger.

As with other second life applications for EV batteries, extending their useful life will increase their ability to contribute towards carbon neutrality. While it varies between manufacturers, it takes around three years (or 30,000 miles) for an EV to offset its carbon impact. Add on another ten years to this and you’ve got a large negative carbon balance, and the battery itself is 100 percent recyclable, too.

Off Grid Energy’s managing director, Danny Jones, said: “Off Grid Energy’s business model has been built with sustainability at its core, from the way we make our products and the materials we use, through to the environmental impact of our technology. We’re extremely excited to be in partnership with BMW Group UK and use our technology to give BMW and MINI electric vehicle batteries such a valuable second use.”

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