A recent article by Justin Rowlatt, Chief environment correspondent at the BBC, claims that we are in the middle of the "biggest revolution in motoring since Henry Ford's first production line started turning back in 1913". What is he referring to? Electric cars of course.
Although in its infancy, the tide is turning and you only need to watch the latest flurry of TV ads to witness the push on hybrid and electric vehicles from almost every car manufacturer you can think of. Rowlatt's article is an interesting read and highlights the fact that we are past the tipping point between electric and petrol / diesel cars. This is proven in his disclosure that Jaguar plans to sell only electric cars from 2025, Volvo from 2030 and Lotus from 2028.
The article likens the switch to electric vehicles to the launch of the internet and the speed at which it took hold. He claims that the EV market, could go the way of the internet and alludes to the fact that it may not evolve gradually, giving us little time to plan ahead.
Rowlatt discusses both the 'S curve' and the 'learning curve' both of which make complete sense in terms of manufacture and retail uptake, however if things are set to move as quickly as predicted, shouldn't we also be considering end of life?
At present, end of life petrol and diesel cars are either returned to their manufacturers, transported to specialists facilities or purchased by breakers yards where they are broken down and sold for scrap. The key difference with electric cars is the disposal of the 'life blood' of the vehicle - its battery.
Electric car batteries (lithium-ion batteries) have very different disposal needs to lead-acid batteries.
Firstly, lithium batteries they can be extremely dangerous. They need specialist handling, storage and transportation. Secondly they offer huge recycling potential and for EVs to be a truly 'better environmental option', the spent batteries need to be fully utilised for their recycling potential. Thirdly, and perhaps of most relevance to the viability of these cars long term, are the costs associated with disposing of these batteries.
Currently, petrol and diesel vehicles that reach the end of their use have dismantled scrap value and the various parts, including the battery can be sold. Conversely, with electric vehicles there is a cost involved with disposing of the lithium battery. Those who find themselves with an end of life electric vehicle will have to find a safe exit route for the lithium battery including compliant storage, transport and disposal - and there is a price attached to this. As the market grows and develops, so too will the number of worn out and crash damaged EVs, as such the requirement for lithium battery disposal will increase dramatically. With this in mind those in the industry should be considering this challenge right now!
Although the number of end of life EVs may be low at present, in 5 or 10 years this will not be the case. Working with a specialist lithium battery recycling organisation and understanding the options is a wise move. Cawleys Lithium Battery Recycling is ahead of the curve on all aspects of lithium battery recycling and disposal. We are one of the very few companies that offer this service and pride ourselves on the recycling options we provide. As mentioned previously, lithium battery production relies heavily on the need to obtain raw materials from the earth. Elements such as cobalt and nickel are precious elements that are a finite resource. These elements can be extracted from used lithium-ion batteries to be re-used and it is vital that we do so in order to place less pressure on our planet and its raw materials. However, this is not an easy process. It is both highly specialised and can be extremely dangerous. There are very few experts currently in the UK that can do this. Cawleys have a specialist facility and highly trained specialists that can carry out this process compliantly with all the correct licenses and safety regulations firmly in place. Indeed, we are already working with several household car manufacturers, R&D facilities and scrap yards who have every faith in our service and realise the immense importance of EV lithium battery recycling. Visit our webpage for more information on our service.