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OM in the News: GM and Old Chevy Volt Batteries

June 17, 2015
Used Chevy Volt batteries are becoming backup power options for GM's IT administration building.

Used Chevy Volt batteries are becoming backup power options for GM’s IT administration building.

General Motors said it has begun utilizing used Chevy Volt batteries to help power one its buildings, reports ZDNet.com (June 16, 2015). Under the plan, GM will use first generation Volt batteries to power its IT administration building at its Milford Proving Grounds facility. The company has built out an enterprise data center there.

When Volt batteries expire for use in the car, there is about 80% of power storage left. As a result, GM is using the Volt batteries to complement a solar array and wind turbines. By repackaging the batteries in this way, GM has found a very effective, efficient use of batteries that does not require difficult and expensive recycling.

GM’s move highlights how secondary uses are emerging for electric vehicle batteries. Scrap Volt battery covers have already been used for things like buildings for animals and nesting areas. One of the more interesting moves is Tesla’s efforts to use its battery technology to power data centers and homes. Amazon Web Services has been testing out Tesla’s technology for its data centers. For GM, the five Volt batteries serve as a nice backup power supply and cut down on waste. The batteries can provide back-up power for up to four hours in an outage.

Classroom discussion questions:

1. What other uses could an operations manager find for these Volt batteries?

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of electric vehicles?

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