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 plantDuring 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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Updated EV

2023 Nissan Leaf pricing announced

The Leaf got a mild facelift for 2023.

Nissan

Nissan is nearing the release of the Ariya, its first new EV in several years. Even so, the brand hasn't forgotten about its first mass-market EV, the Leaf. It was an early entrant in the space, and has been an efficient, affordable, commuter car for over a decade. The car got a mild facelift for 2023, with updated wheels and exterior styling accents. Today, Nissan announced pricing for the Leaf, which starts at just under $29,000.

2023 Nissan LeafThe Leaf feels lively, despite middling power numbers.Nissan

The base Leaf comes with a 40-kWh battery capable of delivering a 149-mile range. Its 110-kW electric motor produces 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The Leaf SV Plus features a 60-kWh battery for a range of 212 miles. It comes with a 160-kW motor that makes 214 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Nissan backs all Leaf models with an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

ProPilot Assist comes standard for the Leaf SV Plus, and brings a full suite of advanced driver aids that include adaptive cruise control, driver alertness features, and a surround-view monitor. All Leaf models get Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic high beams, and rear automatic braking.

2023 Nissan LeafThe Leaf SV Plus offers up to 212 miles of range.Nissan

The new Leaf starts at $28,895, which includes a $1,095 destination charge. The Leaf SV Plus starts at $36,895. The 2023 Nissan Leaf is on sale now, and may be eligible for federal tax credits of up to $7,500. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to receive a state tax credit or other incentives.

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The EQB lands this summer with a not-so-bad starting price.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is pressing ahead with its electrification goals. Following the release of the EQS flagship electric sedan last year, the automaker is readying the EQB, an electric SUV with up to seven seats. Today, Mercedes announced pricing for the vehicle, and it's surprisingly reasonable. Two trim levels will be offered for the EQB in the United States: Exclusive and Pinnacle, and wecould see an AMG variant at some point down the road.

The EQB comes in two variants, including the EQB 300 and EQB 350, both of which come with all-wheel drive. The EQB 300 offers 225 horsepower and the 350 delivers 288 ponies. Those aren't super-serious numbers and they don't have to be. The EQB competes with vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4, so mind-blowing performance isn't exactly the goal. Mercedes hasn't given range estimates yet, but they should fall in line with the competition.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQBThe EQB will come in two powertrain variants, each with two trims.Mercedes-Benz

The SUV comes standard with a 10.25-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen. Mercedes includes a good list of standard safety features, including lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and active brake assist. Additionally, the EQB's navigation system routes the vehicle for the best efficiency and can help locate charging stations.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB 300 starts at $56,800, including a $1,050 destination charge. A range-topping Pinnacle trim is available for $59,350. The EQB 350 starts at $60,350. Mercedes says the SUV will go on sale in summer 2022.

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