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Electric Vehicle Update: New Models, New Uses for Batteries

Amanda Zmolek, Industry Relations for Copart, Inc based in the US, takes a brief look at the types of EVs available and possible uses for used EV batteries when their end of life comes.

 

Electric Vehicle Update: New Models, New Uses for Batteries f four
Amanda Zmolek

It seems like every day there is a flurry of electric vehicle news to read. I’ve been working to stay on top of it all, and here are some of the interesting things I’ve heard about that I’d like to share with you.

New Models

There are a bunch of new electric models hitting the roads this year or in the near future. There’s the resurrected Hummer and the Ford Mustang Mach-E. GM just announced a new business unit called Bright Drop that will focus on electric last-mile delivery.  According to Car and Driver, Ford plans for an electric F-150 to go on sale in mid-2022. Fisker plans to release the Ocean SUV in 2022, Rivian has the R1T pickup planned for 2021, and Lucid Motors will go public soon if everything goes according to plan. (Ford and Amazon, among other companies, have stakes in Rivian too). And if you really wanted a Tesla Cybertruck, you should be able to get one later this year.  Not to mention announcements about EVs from Cadillac, VW, and more.

Range Updates

In the past, a major bottleneck for electric vehicle adoption was range. In other words “how far can I go before I run down the battery?” I did a few quick searches and found the following stats. It seems like things are starting to change.

A 2014 Nissan Leaf had an expected range (when new) of 75 miles. That’s not even enough to get me from my home to my office and back! I’m not the type to drive a compact car anyway, but even if I was, that wouldn’t cut it!

A 2018 Chevy Bolt would have gotten me a couple of trips to work and back. Its range was quoted at 238 miles. I’d probably have to stop for a charge if I wanted to make the 195-mile road trip from Dallas to Austin, and there’s probably still not enough room for all the suitcases and friends.

The 2020 Mustang Mach-E RWD version has an expected range of 300 miles, and there are a few Teslas that quote between 300 and 400 miles. Now we’re getting closer to what I would call a reasonable range. My 2007 V6 Mustang gets between 360-415 miles to the tank, depending on Dallas traffic – this is what I’ve grown accustomed to.

Where to Charge It

Another hurdle for EVs catching on was the lack of a dependable network of charging stations. While this network is growing exponentially, it is also useful to note that ‘Level 2’ home charging is becoming more common. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Level 2 charging gets you about 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging and can run off a typical home’s 240V service. While not at the ‘Level 3’ DC fast-charging rate of 60 to 80 miles of range per 20 minutes of charging, it can be useful for overnight charges or can be installed in parking garages or at businesses like hotels and movie theatres. As of 2019, 80% of the public network was Level 2, and 15% was Level 3.

For reference, ‘Level 1’ charging provides charging through a 120V AC plug. Most EVs will come with a Level 1 cord, so no additional charging equipment is required. It’s pretty slow, and you only get 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging.

New Uses for Batteries

Several companies are exploring what a second life for a used electric vehicle battery could look like. Portable power and power storage for the electric grid are two such possibilities.

Recycled batteries could become home or business power storage solutions. This is important for three use cases:

  • power sources that are not always consistent (usually renewables)
  • uneven strain on the power grid (think of all the air conditioners running at full blast on an August afternoon in Texas)
  • backup power (similar to the way generators are used today).

According to McKinsey & Company, “Lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, usually designed to be useful for a decade, degrade significantly during the first five years of operation. But even after ten years of use, an EV battery can be reused in markets that need stationary energy storage requiring less frequent cycling (especially 100-300 cycles per year).” Those with a supply of electric vehicle batteries on hand might have a host of new customers in new industries soon.

I have also heard of some electric vehicles themselves being able to support a two-way current. V2G stands for “vehicle-to-grid” and is a technology that enables energy to be pushed back to the power grid from the battery of an electric car. That is, if the power goes out at your house, one day you might be able to plug your home into your car for backup power rather than using a stationary battery backup or a traditional generator.

Updated Stats

So how many electric vehicles are out there now? Here are some stats I found by searching and filtering on Copart.com at the end of January:

  • For model years 2015 and newer, we have more hybrid/electric automobiles in inventory than diesels. Hybrid and electric cars make up about 3% of these model years. Diesels are about 2%.
  • There are three times as many hybrid/electric automobiles than diesels for model years 2020 and newer. Hybrid and electric vehicles make up 4.5% of this inventory across the U.S. and Canada.

Want more data? You can search and filter our inventory for your own area by year and fuel type anytime you wish. Visit www.copart.com

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