Sustainability

General Motors and LG Energy Solution's Ultium Cells teams up with Li-Cycle to recycle

General Motors is hoping to recycling as leftovers from the battery making process. This is the battery in the 2023 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors and LG Energy Solution have formed Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture centered around the production of batteries for future GM vehicles. That company has entered into an agreement with Li-Cycle to recycle up to 100 percent of the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing.

The partnership will allow Ultium Cells to recycle battery materials (cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese, and aluminum). A press release from the company says that it expects 95 percent of those recycled materials to be used in future battery products or in adjacent industries.

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain," said Ajay Kochhar, Li-Cycle's president and CEO and co-founder. "This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining."

GM approach to battery materials Photo courtesy of General Motors

This effort plays into the common concerns surrounding battery manufacturing from mining of raw materials to end-of-life disposal. It's also on par for the sustainability efforts that GM has put forward in recent years, extending across numerous aspects of its business including the recycling of clay used in the modeling process.

GM says that the "hydrometallurgical process through which these battery materials will be recycled emits 30 percent less greenhouse gas than traditional processes". This will lessen the overall environmental impact of battery production.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90 percent of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025," said Ken Morris, GM vice president of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles. "Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials."

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100 percent of the battery packs received from customers, including any packs that have been replaced as the result of warranty service. The company says that most current GM EVs are repaired with refurbished packs.

Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle will begin the new scrap recycling process later this year.

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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