In specialty centers in Gothenburg, specialists reprocess broken or discarded electric car batteries or send them to partner Umicore for recycling. (Photo: Volvo Cars)
Volvo is undoubtedly one of the car manufacturers that takes sustainability seriously. Not only, The Swedes just want to build cars with electric battery engines by 2030After ten years, the entire company should be completely CO2 neutral. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, Volvo also wants to break out of the heart Electric cars, the battery, extract the most valuable contribution possible.
Premium OEM announced in Spring 2021To create loops and closed recycling scenarios for reusing batteries from electric vehicles over the next few years. Volvo has now opened two regional battery centers in Gothenburg, where electronic car batteries or individual components of the Volvo and Polestar brands are repaired, processed or prepared for recycling. Similar facilities are currently being built in the United States and China.
Batteries should be used to the maximum
“Battery hubs are an important building block on our path to becoming a completely climate-neutral company by 2040 that takes the principles of the circular economy seriously.”explained Susan HaglundHead of Volvo Cars Service Business Unit. “Volvo will be fully electrified by the end of this decade, so they must also take full responsibility for the life cycle of the batteries, and therefore the entire electrified ecosystem.”
At the new hubs in Gothenburg, components and raw materials that were already used to develop the batteries will be repaired and refurbished so that they can be used for as long as possible. Volvo itself assumes that the service life of Stromer batteries is the same as that of electric cars themselves, that is, about ten years. “When batteries cannot be used in a car, we assess and analyze whether they are suitable for a second life concept or should be recycled as part of our closed loop approach.”explains Hägglund.
Battery core capabilities are still low
The recycling itself is not run internally by Volvo, but the Swedes are one It entered the partnership with the Belgian group Umicore. However, the automaker is currently in a supply process during which a decision is being made on whether to extend the contract with Umicore or whether Volvo will look for a new partner. “We want to achieve higher reuse rates, so we are currently exploring the situation”Says Bear Norstromhead of the electrical division of the Volvo Cars service business.
Norstrom leads a 15-person team in Gothenburg that takes care of battery analysis and the triage process. Currently, about 35-40 battery packs are processed per week – but a Volvo expert is sure that number will rise significantly in the coming years as cars become more electric. Especially since the OEM will offer customers electronic cars by 2030 at the latest.
A second life for electric car batteries?
Meanwhile, Volvo sees the future of old electric car batteries not just in repair or recycling. Just like other car manufacturers The Swedes want to use batteries for so-called Second Life concepts, for example to store energy. We are still in the exploration stage.admits Beer Norstrom.
As part of a project with BatteryloopVolvo Buses, a subsidiary of Swedish recycling company Stena, is currently testing the use of discarded bus batteries as energy storage in buildings or charging stations. Together with Comsys and Fortum, Volvo wants to improve the flexibility of supply at the Swedish hydroelectric power plant: the batteries from the plug-in hybrid motors act as a constant store of energy and are intended to help provide the so-called “quick balancing” services for the power system.
Through the second life approach Volvo hopes not only to contribute to climate protection, but also to identify new sales and potential savings. From 2025, the Swedish company wants to save around 100 million euros and 2.5 million tons of CO2 annually through its sustainability strategy.