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Debunking EV battery remanufacturing myths

Across the world, automotive manufacturers, governments, and consumers have expressed their ambitions to shift to electric vehicles (EV) at scale. One of the biggest blockers to progress in this area has been the question of what to do with EV batteries once they reach end-of-life.

While an entire EV battery recycling sector has been built off the back of these concerns, recycling should only be used as a last resort, when no further value can be extracted from a battery. Instead, remanufacturing batteries is the most sustainable and cost-effective option; we’ll debunk popular myths surrounding the topic to prove why.

Myth #1 – EV batteries cannot be repaired

This is not true. EV batteries are just like those in smartphones, in that they experience diminishing capacity over time. However, their multiple individual modules allow for the replacement of defective ones, which can be pinpointed with the help of cutting-edge EV battery testing methods.

While degradation begins on the first charge cycle, with warranties typically expiring at around 150,000 miles, or 600 to 1,000 charge/discharge cycles, faults can accelerate this process. With the increasing number of EVs on the roads, even a small percentage of battery failures creates a significant demand for EV battery repair.

While repurposing and recycling have their roles, they overlook the remaining value of most batteries and as each module ages differently, only a portion becomes unusable at the end of its life. By replacing damaged modules, a battery can be restored and saved from reaching a premature end.

Myth #2 – EV battery remanufacturing is only suitable for niche applications, and not scalable in a sustainable way

The remanufacturing process for EV batteries can be repeated multiple times at scale. Furthermore, remanufacturing is more than 50% better for the environment compared to pure recycling in terms of water, electricity, CO2 emissions, and waste to landfill. This approach provides greater confidence to consumers, particularly when it comes to used electric cars, while also offering significant environmental benefits over recycling alone.

Myth #3 – You cannot restore EV batteries to ‘as new’

This is actually correct, but not due to a lack of technology or knowledge. EV batteries contain high-quality minerals in their construction due to their need for immediate high-power and repeat cycling. Lithium-ion batteries typically last up to 1,000 charge/discharge cycles before they degrade below the performance required for automotive applications (up to 70%), which can be determined by various factors.

While Autocraft can repair EV batteries to their highest possible performance state, they will never match a brand-new battery, since you cannot account for calendar-related battery degradation. We can, however, restore optimal performance by reversing the effects of cyclical degradation by replacing the weakest cells/modules, allowing the battery to continue its life on the best possible degradation pathway.

Myth #4 – Recycling is better for the planet

Recycling of EV batteries has its place but should be used as a last resort; remanufacturing ensures the lifespan of an EV can be extended and reduces the overall lifetime cost of EV batteries, instilling confidence in OEMs and consumers, that repair is both financially affordable, and sustainable.

Reuse or refurbishing ensures valuable components which cannot be repaired for EV use, are repurposed for other projects such as power storage, reducing the demand for raw materials and decreasing the environmental impact associated with mining and processing.

Several authorities have spoken of the importance of EV battery remanufacturing. A study published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2020 titled “A Vision for a Sustainable Battery Value Chain in 2030” emphasised the importance of extending battery life through remanufacturing. The report suggested that by 2030, remanufacturing and repurposing EV batteries could help reduce the demand for battery materials by up to 55% and decrease the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with battery production and disposal by 30%.

Another report by Circular Energy Storage, an organisation specialising in battery lifecycle management, analysed the environmental impact of remanufacturing compared to recycling. Their findings indicated that remanufacturing could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 66%, compared to recycling. 

Myth #5 – EV battery remanufacturing is too difficult due to transportation challenges

It is true that EV batteries must be transported carefully due to their potentially hazardous nature. Autocraft ensures proper packaging, secure handling, and adherence to safety regulations which is essential to prevent accidents, leakage of hazardous materials, and the risk of fire incidents.

Autocraft has also developed a unique mobile repair capability, which enables us to bring our team, equipment, and expertise to OEMs: our REVIVE™ Triage van / trailer facility. The technology identifies the diagnostic trouble code fast, enabling technicians to repair component faults on-site, getting a vehicle back on the road quickly.

We can also carry out full remanufacturing in the field; our REVIVE™ relocatable Mobile and fixed location REVIVE™ Workshop EV Battery repair solutions utilise virtual reality technology for precise instructions and integrates comprehensive safety systems to track tools, monitor PPE compliance, and ensure technician safety through LIDAR technology and secure storage. All processes are recorded in the cloud for traceability. This enables us to carry out safe and secure EV battery repairs anywhere in the world where there is demand.

EV battery repair is both viable and sustainable, and is the key to unlocking the true environmental value of electric vehicles, making the path to EV adoptability easier and greener.

Written by Dr Sara Ridley – Engineering and Quality Director at Autocraft EV Solutions