General Motors, the largest US automaker and the third biggest in the world, will discuss soon its plans to give alternative usage scenarios for the batteries currently found in its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.
Most likely, the scenarios involving the Volt’s batteries will also be applicable to the upcoming pure electric models, such as the Volt, expected sometimes in 2017. The initiative comes as the automaker gears up to enter into production the second generation of the extended range plug in hybrid electric car, which has a lithium-ion battery pack and a small gasoline engine acting as a generator and secondary powertrain. Today’s crop of lithium-ion batteries employed by plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles have a life span of around a decade, which is usually longer than leases would last. And, since at the end of the driving cycle the batteries would still retain around 70 percent of their nominal capacity, either the owner or the company itself could sell them to lower the ownership cost. Usually, automakers offer a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles for the batteries. Chevrolet started selling the Volt back in 2010, with the first generation model having a pure electric range of 38 miles. The upcoming second generation Volt is billed at 50 miles of electric power before turning to the gasoline engine for backup power.
Manufacturers are now exploring alternative uses for the vehicle batteries to further reduce costs, as sales of the Volt and other electric or hybrids have fallen short of predictions – especially since last year gasoline prices started to drop.