Audi plans to sell thousands of electric cars and hybrid vehicles each year. Like all manufacturers, the brand is obliged to take the batteries back after their use in the car. At the main plant in Ingolstadt, the car manufacturer is testing used industrial trucks powered by used lithium-ion batteries.
After being used in cars, batteries still have much of their original charge capacity. At Audi, a project team is currently investigating how to use energy storage, for example, from test vehicles of the new e-tron or from hybrid models such as the already sold Audi A3 e-tron and Q7 e-tron.
The forklift trucks (FFZ) used in Audi production – such as forklifts and tractors – have previously been sourced from lead-acid batteries. If these are empty, employees dismantle the battery packs weighing up to two tons and connect them to a charging station for several hours. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, can be recharged directly to their parking spaces during regular service lives. "This saves space, and there is no need for a lot of manual effort to replace the batteries," says Audi. If the global FFZ fleet were to convert to lithium-ion batteries, one million euros could be saved.
"Every lithium-ion battery requires a lot of energy and valuable resources that need to be used in the best possible way," says Peter Kössler, board member at Audi for production and logistics. "For us, a sustainable electromobility strategy also includes a sensible second-use concept for the energy sources."
Better driving characteristics with lithium battery
According to Audi, the charging capacity of the lithium-ion battery remaining after its use in the car is more than sufficient for the requirements of the transport vehicles. Your driving characteristics improved by the use even significantly. "So they can keep their speed constant even on sloping ramps – with lead-acid battery-powered trucks can not do that. In addition, the regular loading during breaks prevents downtime during working hours, "they say.
The flat, wide under-passenger battery between the axles of Audi's new e-tron electric SUV consists of 36 individual modules. The Audi project team will check each module for its continued use after the battery has been returned. They then install 24 modules each in a new battery tank with the same dimensions and weight as the existing lead acid batteries of the industrial trucks.
After successful tests, the first converted trucks are now being tested in daily production. In addition, the use of used modules in mobile loading containers for electric cars or in stationary energy storage conceivable. Audi is also developing concrete concepts for recycling: at the end of its life cycle, valuable elements from the batteries will be incorporated into new products and used further.