In Nissan car factories around the globe workers are aided by robotic automated guided vehicles, or AGVs, which deliver parts when needed to workers as they build the company’s automotive products.
Importantly, the company that pioneered the electric vehicle with its Nissan Leaf, is now using the battery modules from the first-generation LEAF lithium-ion battery packs to power these AGVs, creating a circular economy for EV batteries within the manufacturing plants themselves.
Nissan regularly publishes articles, such as this one published in late-January, that highlight the company’s efforts to re-purpose its LEAF batteries in everything from forklifts to large stationary energy storage projects, and into portable emergency relief power supplies, so they can be used in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Nissan’s latest story focuses on its AGVs, described as “robotic mail carriers, whizzing around magnetic tracks delivering parts when needed as cars are built.” More than 4,000 AGVs are hard at work across Nissan’s car factories around the globe, running on magnetic tracks and guided by sensors so there are no bumps or spills.
The first-generation Nissan Leaf was fitted with a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack, made up of 48 battery modules. Around eight years ago, Nissan’s engineers found a way to take three of these modules and use them to power an AVG.
In 2020, Nissan took this idea to the next step by re-purposing old Nissan Leaf battery modules, instead of using new ones, to power the AVGs.
Now that Nissan’s AVGs have been switched over to repurposed Leaf batteries, they are able to simply stop along their route and top up at a charging station, saving a great deal of time.
Masashi Matsumoto, who promotes the development of AGVs at Nissan’s Production Technology Research and Development Center, says Nissan Leaf owners benefit too. “When used EV batteries become more valuable, trade-in prices rise. With more ways to use batteries, the overall residual value of the Leaf has increased.”