Here’s What Really Happens To Used Electric Car Batteries


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Video description via Engineering Explained on YouTube:

Are electric car batteries recycled? Can batteries be re-used? Are electric cars better for the environment? Sponsored by Formula E
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What happens to old electric car batteries when they wear out? Can electric car batteries be recycled, re-used, and is any of it cost effective. In this video we look at not only road cars but also race cars, and learn about what happens to electric car batteries after they can no longer provide a useful charge. We’ll look at the Nissan Leaf, as well as what Formula E plans to do with the batteries from Seasons 1-4.

Fantastic Jalopnik Formula E Battery Article:…

Categories: Battery Tech, Tesla, Videos

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17 Comments on "Here’s What Really Happens To Used Electric Car Batteries"

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If the battery is still functional, just put it up for sale on eBay or something and some EV conversion person or a solar PV person will buy it and re-use it. They make great batteries for residential storage & back-up even if they can only hold 70% of their original capacity.

We know what happens to them, they go on sale on ebay!
If i wanted to build my own powerwall (because Tesla is taking forever to make and sell theirs) it would cost me almost x2 to do it with used batteries! WTF??? There is huge demand for used ev modules.

And that doesn’t even count the price of the inverter!

Inverter?! They don’t even have a BMS for crying out loud!!! Plus you have to do all the work yourself and make sure you don’t mess up otherwise you may kiss your house goodbye.
I looked at other Li battery manufacturers too and if you go with them it may end up being a x3 job compared to Tesla. Outrageous!

yes, Tesla is outrageously priced but DIY costs even more.
Personally I wouldn’t use EV batteries. Use LiFepo4, way higher cycle life and somewhat safer aka less volatile.

Yes, i saw one other US manufacturer and the price was close to $1k/kW.

I wish we could get manufacturers to standardize the BMS protocol so that the batteries can be repurposed by consumers.

Reminds me of an exchange from the classic Star Trek episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles”:

CAPTAIN KIRK: You should sell an instruction and maintenance manual for this thing.

CYRANO JONES: If I did, what would happen to man’s search for knowledge?


Standardize before innovation has done its magic? We are a long way from EV batteries packs being commodities.

The so called “used battery” quality varies significantly. Generally speaking, you get a better quality better from a lower aged battery from a wreck than from an used battery from a high cycle count applications such as Steve Marsh’s 150K miles LEAF or a 300K+ miles Tesloop Model S.

Yep. Wrecks are the way to go for sure. The good news is, Tesla makes their cars to be fast, so there will always be a never ending supply of Tesla wrecks to supply batteries. Pretty soon the used battery market will be awash with Model 3 battery packs!

Nothing like a realistic cynic. We should all invest in tire companies too, since fast EVs will wear out more tires (and create lots of micro particulates for us to breathe…)


It sounds like Retriev (used to be Toxco) and Umicore can recycle LiIon packs but it isn’t worth the time or money to do so, with prices and wages the way they are today.
So most packs will be re-used/re-purposed and then discarded, if newer techniques aren’t developed to drive down the cost of recycling packs. Considering how few pounds of cobalt and lithium are required for even a 100 kWh pack, it probably isn’t that big a deal, but it would be good optics for recycling to at least be an option.

A 100 kWh pack using NMC-622 chemistry needs more than 30 kg of cobalt, which currently costs something like $2,000…

There seems to be no clear consensus on this: but I have seen some claims that extracting the nickel and cobalt at least is simple enough that it’s been profitable for years.

(Lithium is more tricky though, and few are doing it yet.)

Wow! I just checked the price of automotive grade cobalt and it is up to $14.50 a pound! It was around $8 in 2016, if memory serves. Pure cobalt is up to $27 per pound. I think lithium carbonate has gone from around $3 a pound to $6 a pound.

Most batteries will have a second life before recycling. If the recycling stream is not yet economical (due to insufficient numbers of defunct batteries) then the manufacturer should be required by law to retrieve the battery, store it safely, and then recycle it themselves.
Heck, they should do that for the whole car.

I’m pretty sure that’s already the case for all types of batteries in Europe at least?