Sustainability

Volkswagen Group constructs their first electric car battery recycling plant

The new plant is strictly designed for battery recycling.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Just down the road from the historic home of the Volkswagen brand, Volkswagen Group is building its first electric car battery recycling plant. The Salzgitter, Germany facility is a step toward the company's goal of end-to-end responsibility for the value chain of the electric vehicle battery.

Electric batteries are made up of various components including lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt. All of those materials are mined from the earth, often using child labor. Volkswagen is aiming to recover those minerals and metals and put them together in a closed loop with aluminum, copper and plastics, achieving a recycling rate of more than 90 percent over the long term.

Volkswagen Group Salzgitter battery recycling plant During the recycling process, various metals and minerals are harvested and can be made into valuable "black powder".Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen Group Salzgitter battery recycling plant

In addition to those matierals, the recycling process yields valuable "black powder", which contains the important raw materials for batteries such as lithium, nickel, manganese, and cobalt, as well as graphite. The separation and processing of these individual substances by hydrometallurgical processes—using water and chemical agents—is carried out by specialized partners.

The facility is unique in that it will only be able to recycle batteries and won't be used for other purposes. Large volumes of battery returns are not expected until the late 2020s, at the earliest. The plant has been designed to recycle up to 3,600 battery systems per year at first, the equivalent of more than 1,600 tons of waste. Scaling up is possible as the need arises.

According to a release, here's how the process works.

  • Before the battery is recycled, an analysis determines whether the battery is still powerful enough to be given a second life in mobile energy storage systems such as the flexible rapid charging station or the mobile charging robot.
  • The recycling process begins with the systems being delivered, deep discharged, and dismantled.
  • Individual parts are ground into granules in the shredder and then dried.

This is the first battery recycled at the plant as part of a pilot program.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Essential components of old battery cells can be used to produce new cathode material," explains Mark Möller, Head of the Business Unit Technical Development & E-Mobility. "From research, we know that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones. In the future, we intend to support our battery cell production with the material we recover. Given that the demand for batteries and the corresponding raw materials will increase drastically, we can put every gram of recycled material to good use."

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Electric vehicle production

GM outlines huge investment in new EV production

The $7 billion number is GM's largest single investment to date.

General Motors

Automakers are not shy about their plans to electrify their vehicle lineups. In fact, it's just the opposite, as most can't wait to release a media kit that sings the virtues of moving toward electrification and outlines their commitments to investing billions to make the move a reality. General Motors has been more active than most, building new facilities and revamping existing factories to handle new-age EV manufacturing. Today, the auto giant announced a further investment to build a new plant and overhaul the Orion Township facility in Michigan. The move creates thousands of jobs and positions GM as an early powerhouse in the EV race.

GM EV investment. GM says its new and existing facilities will create and retain thousands of jobs.General Motors

The $7 billion investment is slated for four Michigan manufacturing facilities. GM says the move will create 4,000 new jobs and retain 1,000 existing positions, and notes that the amount represents the single largest investment in company history. A new Ultium Cells battery plant in Lansing is part of the deal, along with the conversion of the GM assembly planting Orion Township. Orion will eventually house production of the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and the electric GMC Sierra, making it the second of GM's facilities dedicated to building electric pickup trucks.

The Orion and Ultium Cells Lansing facilities will help GM boost its total full-size electric truck production to 600,000 units per year when both Factory Zero and Orion are in full swing. Though Ford sells more full-size trucks than Chevy or GMC individually, GM notes that the two combined move more trucks per year than The Blue Oval. The two plants join General Motors' existing EV-ready facilities that include Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck, Spring Hill Assemble in Tennessee, CAMI in Ontario, and the Ramos Arizpe Assembly facility in Mexico.

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New luxury car

BMW sends its V12 engine off in style

BMW will build its final V12 engine this June.

BMW

Most automakers are focused on building EVs and extracting the best fuel economy from gas engines possible, so it’s not surprising to hear that BMW is pulling the plug on one of its biggest and most iconic engines. In June 2022, BMW will build its very last V12 engine for use in a super-limited-production special edition 7 Series model. The ultra-rare cars will carry a starting price of $200,995.

BMW 760i xDrive The last V12 will power a very special (and very expensive) 7 Series car.BMW

Only twelve lucky customers will have the option to nab a V12-powered BMW, which will be called the M760i xDrive. Displacing 6.6 liters, the twin-turbocharged beast produces a massive 601 horsepower. An eight-speed sport automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. BMW says the powertrain is strong enough to push the hefty 7 Series car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds.

The final-run cars will feature little more than a special “V12” badge at the rear to differentiate them from standard 7 Series models. Inside, the car features a serialized plaque with the car’s production number out of the 12 units planned. The engine itself features a nameplate with “The Final V12.”

Beyond the badges, BMW’s 12-cylinder last-hurrah will come standard with 20-inch M double-spoke wheels, a choice of any available BMW full Merino leather color, M Sport brakes with black or blue calipers, a panoramic LED roof, remote control parking, a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system, and adaptive LED headlights.

BMW 760i xDrive Only 12 of the cars will be built, with a starting price of more than $200,000.BMW

Though it hasn’t been BMW’s most popular engine over the years, the V12 has been a part of the automaker’s catalog for 35 years. The first 12-cylinder engine showed up in 1987, producing 295 horsepower in the original 750iL sedan.

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