In its 2021 Impact Report, Tesla claims it can recycle up to 92% of the materials used in a battery.
Battery recycling is a subject regularly placed at the heart of issues relating to the electric car. Successfully reusing the materials of our accumulators would indeed make it possible to create a closed-loop supply chain, in order, ultimately and in an ideal future, to reduce the extraction of raw materials as much as possible.
As explained in our file “Is the electric car a clean vehicle”, only 5% of the metals present in a battery are not recycled to date. Among them is lithium: this element is not neglected because of its properties, but because of its too high cost in terms of recycling.
Important financial issues
This essential theme must be taken seriously by manufacturers in the sector. Among the largest electric car manufacturers in the world, Tesla has for its part created its own recycling process, developed in-house in 2020 and implemented at the Gigafactory in Nevada in the last quarter of 2020.
This method allows it to recycle 92% of the raw materials used in its batteries, tells us Tesla’s 2021 impact report. Last year, the company notably recycled 300 tons of copper, 200 tons of cobalt but also and above all 1,500 tons of nickel.
Recycling nickel has posed considerable financial challenges since its price spiked in March 2022, given the war in Ukraine. Knowing how to recycle it in large quantities can therefore lead to significant savings. Nevertheless: the figures announced by Tesla are probably minimal compared to the figures of tomorrow.
Indeed, most of the batteries now recycled by the Californian firm come from both its R&D and quality control departments, as well as vehicles from its Tesla Model S fleet – especially taxis.
Volumes still low
Since the large sedan was launched in 2013, it’s the only one that can reach a stage far enough along in its life cycle to recycle its battery. Nevertheless, the modest sales volumes of Tesla during the 2010s logically contain the quantity of batteries to be recycled today.
On the other hand, by the end of the 2020s, the flow of batteries to be recycled should increase considerably: by then, it is up to Tesla to fill the last 8 percent of its recycling process.
To follow us, we invite you to download our Android and iOS application. You can read our articles, files, and watch our latest YouTube videos.