Just like old tyres, used car batteries are becoming a millstone around the necks of manufacturers.
In Germany Audi has begun testing used lithium-ion batteries in factory vehicles at its main Ingolstadt plant.
Because they still have a large part of their original capacity, an interdisciplinary project team is investigating how batteries can continue to be used sensibly.
The batteries come from Audi vehicles such as e-tron test vehicles and hybrids such as the Audi A3 e-tron and Audi Q7 e-tron.
A number of other advantages have become apparent too during the test phase.
Fork-lifts and tow tractors have until now been powered by traditional lead-acid batteries.
When the batteries need to be recharged, the battery packs weighing up to two tonnes have to be removed from the vehicles and connected to a charging station for several hours.
But lithium-ion batteries can be charged in the vehicles in breaks between shifts, saving space and eliminating the effort required to remove and replace the batteries.
Audi says it would save millions if it converted its entire factory fleet to lithium-ion batteries at its 16 production sites worldwide.
“Every lithium-ion battery represents high energy consumption and valuable resources that must be used in the best possible way,” Member of the Board of Management for Production and Logistics, Peter Kössler, said.
“For us, a sustainable electric-mobility strategy also includes a sensible second-use concept for energy carriers.”
The driving characteristics of vehicles actually improve with the recycled batteries.
They can keep a constant speed, even on ramps – vehicles powered by lead-acid batteries cannot do this.
In addition, regular charging during breaks prevents downtime during working hours.
The battery pack of an Audi e-tron for example consists of 36 individual battery modules.