The Volkswagen Group of America has tied up with American recycling company Redwood Materials to recover and recycle end-of-life electric vehicle battery packs from VW and Audi cars. Just like most modern gadgets, EVs are also powered by lithium batteries, and recycling them is becoming more critical than ever before. Battery technology in EVs is becoming a contentious issue, especially with the spike in lithium, nickel and cobalt prices over the past year. To reduce costs, companies like Tesla are using LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries in some of their cars as they are significantly cheaper than the Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA) cells that are typically used in EVs.
Tesla is one of the EV-makers that does its battery recycling in-house. However, according to a report released by the company last year, it first tries to extend the life of a battery pack before recycling it. For that, Tesla uses OTA software updates to improve battery efficiency, as well as rectify and repair defective batteries at its service centers. The company also claims to ‘remanufacture’ batteries before recycling. That often includes replacing a cell or two, making it the preferred option both environmentally as well as economically.
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Redwood Materials have announced a deal with the Volkswagen Group of America to recycle end-of-life EV batteries from Volkswagen and Audi electric cars. Announcing the deal, Redwood said it would work with Volkswagen’s network of more than 1,000 dealers across the U.S. to “recover, safely package, transport, and recycle” end-of-life batteries at its factory in Carson City, Nev.
As part of the deal, Redwood Materials says it will extract more than 95 percent of the metals found in these batteries, including nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. These components will then be sent to U.S.-based battery cell manufacturing facilities, where they will be reused to manufacture new anode and cathode components. According to Redwood, the VW deal will help increase the sheer volume of EV batteries that are available for recycling, thereby reducing the prices of new batteries, which often account for 20-30 percent of the vehicle cost.
Founded by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel, Redwood Materials has already signed partnerships with multiple major automakers to recycle their end-of-life EV batteries. Last month, the company entered into a partnership with Japanese auto major Toyota for the collection, remanufacturing and recycling of EV batteries. According to the company, most of the recyclable Toyota EV batteries are from the gas-electric hybrid Prius, which was launched more than 20 years ago and has now started retiring from the roads. The deal with Toyota will initially focus on testing and recycling EV batteries before expanding into other areas.