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Retired EV Batteries to Become Mobile Charging Stations


Retired batteries from BMW and MINI electric models could soon be used to charge other vehicles.

The UK arm of the BMW Group has launched an initiative to supply old electric vehicle battery modules to energy storage company Off Grid Energy. Off Grid will adapt the batteries to create mobile power units, giving them a second life.

After eight years of use and 100,000 miles, EV batteries can no longer efficiently be used in cars. However, they still retain up to 80% of their original capacity, which can be harnessed in mobile charging stations.

Off Grid’s Battery Energy Storage Systems deliver power for electric vehicles, construction and events, offering a clean and cost-effective alternative to traditional diesel generators.

The company has already developed its first prototype from BMW Group vehicle batteries. The 40kWh charging module runs on lithium-ion battery modules extracted from a MINI Electric development unit and delivers a charge a 7.2kW fast charge. Eventually Off Grid hopes to develop systems with a capacity of up to 180kWh, with multiple charge rates of up to 50kW.

When these models displace conventional ways of generating temporary power, like generators, they double the CO2 reduction achieved in their original use in cars.

Graeme Grieve, CEO BMW Group UK, said “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.”

Sales of the group’s EVs have exploded this year. While overall sales of BMWs were down 12.5% during the first nine months of the year, as lockdown froze the auto markets, sales of electric models were up 20%.

Sales have been driven by the fully-electric MINI, with the auto manufacturer delivering 10,000 models this year, but plug-in hybrid variants of the BMW X2, BMW 3 Series, and BMW 5 Series were also strong performers.

Deliveries of the fully-electric BMW iX3 will begin before the end of the year and 2021 will see further expansion of the range, with electric BMW i4s and BMW iNext’s next off the assembly line. The German auto manufacturer will have 25 electrified models on the roads by 2023, half of them fully electric and the rest plug-in hybrids.

BMW is ultimately aiming to sell more than seven million EVs worldwide by 2030, two-thirds of them fully electric models.

In the UK, the government recently brought forward the phase-out day for petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles to 2030, meaning we'll all soon be driving—and charging—EVs.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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