Batteries are the biggest source of emissions generated by an electric vehicle over its lifetime
In a few years, many EVs will reach the end of their useful life
BMW reuses some batteries and recycles the rest
Since electric vehicles have entered the mainstream market, around ten years ago, the question as to what can be done with the batteries at the end of their life has remained.
Producing batteries generates a high quantity of polluting emissions and once their useful life is over, they can’t be disposed of easily due to the hazardous materials they contain.
However, even when they are at the end of their life, batteries are still full of minerals that can be recycled and reused in new batteries, such as cobalt and nickel.
Because there isn’t an official guideline on EV battery recycling, many automakers create their own programs to take care of the batteries installed in their older EVs.
BMW is the latest manufacturer to create a plan to recycle and reuse its EV’s batteries. The German automaker starts by reusing some batteries as a whole to power equipment in its factories, such as forklifts.
For the remaining batteries, the automaker harvests the raw materials that can be recycled and put back into a new battery.
Doing so reportedly lowers the C02 emissions associated with battery production by about 70% and allows for a circular economy which is less dependent on mining companies and the current market.
According to the automaker, the majority of its recycled batteries, at the moment, come from discarded test vehicles and prototypes, since most EVs are not yet old enough to be sold for scrap.
This could change fairly soon however, since BMW’s own i3 was introduced back in 2014, meaning that the oldest units are now 8 years old, which is not far off from the average age of the vehicles on American roads, which is now at just over 12 years.
This reuse and recycle program will help BMW achieve its goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 by limiting the quantity of newly mined minerals that are needed to build new cars.