December 6, 2021

Second life at Audi in Ingolstadt

The batteries usually live longer than the electric cars in which they are installed. At Audi, lithium-ion batteries have a second life in transport vehicles that are used in the factory.

The first Audi e-trons roll to customers and on the road, and with them large battery packs in the vehicle floor of the SUV. The more electric cars are built, the greater the number of batteries that manufacturers will have to take back later. In addition to recycling the batteries, their further use is a correct approach.

Audi has now founded a project team to deal with exactly this. With the start of series production of the e-tron, the prototypes are now being dismantled. Their lithium-ion batteries, like those of the plug-in hybrids A3 and Q7 e-tron, are still in use at the Audi plant at the headquarters in Ingolstadt after their first life.

No need to remove the batteries

So-called industrial trucks, for example forklifts and tractors for the transport of goods, have been in the production halls electrically for some time. Lead-acid batteries weighing up to two tons are installed in them. To charge them, they first have to be removed from the vehicle before hanging from the power cord for several hours at a time.

With the use of used lithium-ion batteries from cars, Audi wants to use and charge industrial trucks more efficiently. There is no need to remove the batteries, and the charging time is significantly reduced. The modern batteries are easier and more space-saving to recharge at fixed locations, for example during breaks.

Other concepts for using the batteries

Audi is installing the new batteries in the battery trays of the previous lead-acid batteries. The e-tron batteries are disassembled for this. 24 of the 36 modules used in the car fit into the industrial trucks. The manufacturer believes that millions of dollars can be saved if the lithium-ion batteries are used throughout the production process.

This means that not all used electric car batteries can be reused. In addition, Audi is also developing further concepts for the further use of the batteries, for example in stationary energy stores or mobile charging containers for electric cars.