Audi installs used Lithium-ion batteries in factory vehicles


Audi is testing used lithium-ion batteries on its factory vehicles at its Ingolstadt plant. The company is investigating how batteries from e-tron test vehicles and hybrid models like the A3 e-tron and Q7 e-tron can be used re-used. Audi claims that the batteries still have a large proportion of their original charging capacity left.

European law mandates carmakers to take back energy carriers after they have been used in cars. Audi is therefore replacing the lead-acid batteries used on its fork-lifts and tow tractors at the factory with used lithium-ion batteries. Unlike the lead-acid batteries that weigh up to 2 tonnes and have to be removed from the vehicles and connected to charging stations for several hours, lithium-ion batteries can be charged directly when the vehicles are not in use. This saves spaces and the manual effort required to replace the batteries.

According to Audi, the remaining charging capacity of a used lithium-ion battery is sufficient to run these vehicles. Also, driving characteristics are improved as the vehicles can maintain a constant speed even on ramps and downtimes can be reduced as the batteries can be charged during breaks. 

The lithium-ion battery in an Audi e-tron consists of 36 modules. The project team checks each individual battery module for its continued usability and then installs 24 modules in each new battery tray. These batteries can be installed in the factory vehicles without any major modification or investment. A specialized team could be tasked to assemble used batteries in the company's battery centre in the future.

Audi has been working on this project for about 2 years. After successful initial tests, the company has deployed the first converted test vehicles in the factory. The used batteries could also be used for mobile charging containers for electric vehicles or in stationary energy storage systems. The carmaker is also developing ways to recycle used batteries.

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