Two million electric vehicles have been sold in the first quarter of 2022 alone. And with the EV industry set to reach a value of $1.1 trillion by 2030, there’s no denying the fact that the future of the entire automotive industry is electric, especially with governments around the world incentivizing technology that reduces carbon emissions.
But while the benefits of electric vehicles are hard to ignore, the rise of EVs also means that the number of lithium-ion batteries used to power them is increasing quickly. And that, in turn, means that old and no longer usable electric vehicle batteries will need to be recycled, disposed of, or repaired for the industry to truly become sustainable.
With EV battery disposal guidelines not readily available, you may be unsure how to approach the situation when your battery is no longer suitable for driving.
So, where do electric car batteries go when they’re no longer used? Can electric car batteries be recycled? And if so, where can the recycled materials be used?
Let’s explore these and other important questions related to electric battery components and the precious metals they contain below.
Common Problems with EV Batteries
To better understand the situations when you might need to recycle the lithium-ion batteries in your electric vehicle, it’s a good idea to look at some of the more common issues that impact the length of life batteries can have.
Even though electric cars are generally very durable because the engine is much more efficient and doesn’t have nearly as many moving parts, that also makes them much more reliable on the health of the battery systems. If the battery cells start degrading, the car’s range will begin to plummet until it is almost undrivable.
Let’s look at a few issues you might have to deal with when your car is powered by lithium-ion battery cells.
In many ways, electric vehicles are powered similarly to most other household electronic devices you are probably using. Just like your smartphone, laptop, or tablet, an electric car uses lithium-ion battery packs to power the vehicle’s engine. And just as with your devices, the amount of power the individual cells can store will decrease as the car goes through hundreds of charge cycles.
Luckily, most reputable EV manufacturers have invested a lot of money in creating reliable lithium-ion cells with a long life cycle. Most manufacturers provide an eight-year warranty on the battery, but it can last even longer if taken care of. Of course, a lot will depend on the conditions the battery is exposed to, including the amount of mileage and extreme temperatures.
Over time, individual battery cells will start to degrade, which means you will either have to repair or replace the entire battery. And with demand for battery materials at an all-time high, that might not always be a viable solution when you have an older electric vehicle that you may no longer need and want to get rid of.
One of the biggest disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries is their high flammability. The battery chemistry makes it very hard to put them out if they catch fire, and unfortunately, that can happen on rare occasions.
The good news is that industry experts at reputable EV manufacturers have developed highly sophisticated systems to control the battery pack’s temperature, implementing a range of security and monitoring features that help reduce the chance of them catching fire to a minimum.
However, while newer EVs can be driven with minimal risk, used and older electric vehicles must undergo regular maintenance and checkups to ensure that the batteries are still in good condition and that the electronic systems that are supposed to keep track of battery performance are doing their job.
Batteries require a specific temperature range to function effectively. In fact, going beyond this range will not only reduce the effectiveness of electric vehicle batteries but can also cause permanent damage that will reduce battery efficiency, shorten the battery life cycle, or even make the individual battery cells virtually unusable.
Typically, the working range for optimal function in an EV battery is around 65 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Electric vehicles have complex cooling systems that prevent the battery from overheating and maintain the system’s temperature optimal for the best battery performance.
Still, if the cooling system malfunctions, that could damage the battery over time. That’s why extreme weather, such as cold or heat, isn’t ideal for the battery, making EVs better suited for milder climates where there aren’t as many fluctuations.
Can EV Batteries Be Reused?
Whether you want to figure out what to do with your old EV battery or are considering selling your car for parts, you may be wondering what options there are for an EV battery to be reused and brought back to life. After all, since the demand for battery materials is increasing, EV battery disposal might not only be viable but profitable as well.
And the answer to that question depends on a few key factors. Most importantly, it depends on whether the battery has been damaged during its use and whether it is still functional.
As mentioned before, the high standards of EV battery production ensure that they will last a long time, sometimes even for decades. But despite remaining functional, charging cycles will impact individual battery cells, significantly reducing their capacity and making the car less practical for drivers who need to maintain their range. For example, if a battery only maintains 70 or 80 percent of its original capacity, that can hurt the EVs range and make it less appealing.
In these situations, even though the battery might no longer be practical for an EV vehicle, it still maintains a significant part of its charging potential. And with the demand for battery materials being as high as it is, EV battery disposal might not be the best option in this situation.
Instead, these batteries can be reused for other purposes. For instance, EV batteries can be taken apart, and their highest-value materials can be utilized when refurbishing newer and healthier batteries with fully functional cells. At the same time, they can serve for a long time as high-capacity stationary storage, which is extremely valuable in an age where more people are relying on renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Eventually, EV battery recycling will become the only viable option, but healthy and working batteries typically can be reused at least once.
Why and When Should You Recycle EV Batteries?
There are many incentives for recycling EV batteries that prompt owners to look for options. In fact, even though catalytic converter theft prevalence has risen because of the part’s value, the batteries used in electric vehicles can be even more profitable, especially if they are in working condition.
At some point, EV battery disposal will be the only option because its components will no longer be useful, even in other applications. Luckily, the active materials accessed during battery disassembly can be used when manufacturing new batteries.
Whether you decide to scrap your car for parts or take care of EV battery disposal individually, make sure you use a reputable buyer that will know how to safely disassemble and reuse the metals inside without causing harm to the environment.
When and How to Dispose of EV Batteries
Even though most of the largest EV car manufacturers have established their own plants for safely disposing of and recycling EV battery materials, the process is still not easy to access for regular consumers who want to get rid of their old batteries in a way that’s responsible and even potentially profitable. And while you could probably find a buyer specializing in EV battery pickup in the United States, the process might be a bit more complicated than you would expect.
Therefore, the most viable and easiest option to dispose of your EV car battery when it’s no longer usable is to use a junk car buyer service that will not only buy the battery but take the entire car off your hands as well.
Instead of having to worry about how to remove the battery, evaluate its condition, and deliver it for EV battery disposal, you can get an instant quote for your entire electric vehicle and receive cash as soon as the same day. Selling your car as a whole will allow you to maximize its value and prevent you from having to worry about finding a suitable replacement battery for your vehicle. Then, you can use the cash you receive from your old EV sale as your starting budget for getting a newer electric car that will serve you for many years to come.
Figuring out what to do with an old EV battery can be a challenge, especially if you’re unaware of the best practices of EV battery disposal or even whether your battery could still be useful. The good news is you don’t have to figure everything out on your own and can rely on professional buyers to guide you through the entire process.
At CashforCars, we have made selling your vehicle as simple as possible. You can fill out a quick form, get an instant quote, and arrange a pickup date with local handlers in your area in a matter of minutes. And you can rest assured that the battery will be reused, recycled, or disposed of in a responsible way that protects the environment.