The FIA European Bureau (EB) commissioned an expert study on guidance and recommendations regarding electric vehicle propulsion battery end-of-life policies. The scope of the report is limited to automotive lithium-ion batteries and excludes other parts of electrified vehicles; geographically, the focus is on Europe.
To strengthen the circularity of propulsion batteries of hybrid or battery electric vehicles, the study recommends making accessible, reliable and verifiable (by third parties) data and information on the battery during its life cycle, for consumers, independent service providers, independent auditors like Green NCAP, for the purpose of testing, auditing of state-of-health during the lifecycle, predictive maintenance, refurbishment, and end-of-life treatment. Open and complete diagnostic data of the propulsion batteries and their embedded materials, especially of aged ones, is key for circularity since it would help understand if the battery can be reused for mobility, for second-life applications or should actually be recycled. Those data should belong to the user and enabling them to provide this to the independent service providers of their choice, not only to the manufacturer.
Uniform international procedures need to be set up on end-of-life treatment of propulsion batteries (e.g., different recycling options, repurposing,) since standardised methods would support unbiased views of the benefits circularity can have on the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) of batteries. In particular, standardised and verifiable diagnosis of state-of-X conditions (e.g., State-of-Health Diagnosis, state of charge) is paramount to innovate batteries repair and batteries second-life.
A battery passport seems crucial to track materials and battery information across its life cycle. The passport should include data on social and environmental aspects of the battery along its supply chain, as well as information on the state condition and performance, while maintaining privacy and security. Transparent, verifiable data and diagnosis is needed for State-of-Health, State-of-Charge, voltage, temperature, depth of discharge and number of recorded incidents. Understanding where the environmental impact of batteries originates is a step forward to reduce this impact.
A European-wide reverse battery value chain needs to be established including all different steps of the process: collection, testing and dismantling facilities, the repurposing workshops, recycling processes and plants. Moreover, current automotive battery packs are not designed to be easily dismantled by independent third parties and without a full circular value creation. The study pinpoints the need for an industry-wide collaboration initiating a common approach to design for circularity and dismantling by setting minimum requirements to standardize elements of design.
Despite the technological aspect, the human factor is crucial to cope with the new challenges faced by the industry to reach a climate neutral transport sector. Proper training and education to acquire new skill sets from the industry is needed for technological developments to be embraced. Eventually, investments in research and development, and open research infrastructure can foster the collaboration between industry, academia, and civil society to effectively accelerate innovations.