The recycling of electric car batteries is considered a fundamental factor for the sustainability of this alternative form of propulsion. Nissan, a pioneer in electric cars, thinks so too. But now, the central component of electric cars has proven to be much more durable than some thought.
Almost all of the electric car batteries we’ve made are still in cars. And we have been selling electric cars for 12 years.
Nissan executive Nic Thomas.
Nissan introduced the Leaf compact car to the market in 2010, which later became the world’s best-selling electric car. But the second generation, launched in 2017, failed to sustain the success, and today other vehicles and brands dominate electric car registration figures. Nissan wants to recover its share of business with new and modern models. Next up is the Ariya crossover.
As of February 2022, some 577,000 copies of the Leaf have been sold worldwide, according to Nissan.
The most critical of electric cars had already warned that the battery packs could lose power or even break completely after a few years, but this has not occurred significantly in any model so far. However, to ensure customer confidence, manufacturers offer extensive warranty promises. Nissan offers a warranty of up to 8 years / 160,000 kilometers for the battery of the Leaf.
Despite the good durability of current batteries, they lose storage capacity over time. The extent to which this occurs depends, in particular, on driving and loading behavior. From less than 70% of the original charge capacity, electric car batteries are generally no longer considered suitable for use in passenger cars.. However, they can then be used longer in a “second life” as stationary electricity storage, for example by energy suppliers. However, Nissan has not yet been able to provide too many batteries for this purpose.
The opposite of what people feared. We don’t have a large reserve of batteries that we can convert to something else. It’s the exact opposite of what people feared when we launched the first electric vehicles: that the batteries wouldn’t last long.
At the end of the vehicle’s life, after 15 or 20 years, the battery is removed from the car, but it’s still “healthy,” with maybe 60 or 70 percent useful charge, Thomas explained. Removing the battery from an electric car and installing a new one makes no sense, he said. It is more sustainable to remove the battery from the car after 20 years, recycle the vehicle and reuse the battery, he said.
Batteries discarded in the Leaf are dismantled and reused in mobile energy storage systems for end consumers, or reuse them in their own robots in their factories, among other places, the official said. The easiest way, however, would be to remove the entire battery from the vehicle, put it on a rack and connect the system to a solar farm, he said. Thomas said Nissan’s new electric car center of excellence, “EV36Zero“, used the batteries of electric cars to store the energy of solar panels and three wind turbines.
“The building will use a mix of new and used batteries, and we will continue to add used batteries as they become available.Thomas explained. He pointed out that Nissan does not own the batteries of its customers’ cars. “We must accompany our customers so that they do things well with them“.
Once the batteries previously used in electric cars have also reached the end of their useful life in stationary use, it is time to recycle them. This area is expected to experience a boom in the coming years. The objective is above all to separate the precious raw materials contained in each of the battery cells so that they can be reused in rechargeable batteries.