Toyota Motor North America is the latest automaker to partner with battery recycling company Redwood Materials in an effort to provide a more sustainable battery supply chain for its electric vehicle push.
The move comes as Toyota becomes one of the first automakers to stockpile end-of-life batteries. The company’s 1997 Prius was the first mass-market gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, and its batteries are among the first to mass reach the age of recycling.
Redwood Materials, founded by former Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel, aims to break down end-of-life batteries and use their materials in new ones. Ford, Volvo and Tesla have already reached agreements with the company.
“Toyota helped pave the way for clean transportation with the introduction of the Toyota Prius over 20 years ago. Their commitment to not only sell millions of electrified vehicles this decade, but also to ensure their circularity in the future is a crucial step for electrification. Straubel said in a press release last week.
Creating a “circular ecosystem” for Toyota’s batteries is the long-term goal of the collaboration. This would involve Redwood Materials breaking down Toyota’s batteries and returning their materials to the company’s North American plants to be made into new batteries.
This could alleviate some of the supply chain disruptions the industry has faced, in addition to removing environmentally harmful harvesting practices for “virgin” materials such as lithium, cobalt and others. metals.
Alexis Georgeson, vice president of communications and government relations at Redwood Materials, said recycling vehicle batteries is crucial to the sustainability of the electric vehicle industry on the continent.
“Localization and relocation is really key to being able to increase electrification in this country, and we’re seeing more and more automakers recognizing that,” Georgeson said. “Both about recycling and more local sourcing of the battery materials that go into making their cells.”
However, the recycled materials will not be entering Toyota’s electric vehicle batteries in the near future.
Matthew Stich, managing director overseeing Toyota’s Battery Lifecycle Solutions team, said the collaboration will involve the collection, testing and recycling of batteries from Toyota’s hybrid electric vehicles.
He suggested the possibility of material refurbishment, data management and battery health screening in the future.