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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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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Lamborghini is accelerating its path toward an all-electric future.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

Lamborghini plans to electrify its lineup and now we know how fast that process will be going and what the company won't be focusing on. In a presentation, Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, detailed that the super luxury automaker will "focus continually on identifying technologies and solutions that guarantee top performance and driving dynamics" rather than fuel economy. Those words are magic to enthusiasts ears.

"Lamborghini's electrification plan is a newly-plotted course, necessary in the context of a radically-changing world, where we want to make our contribution by continuing to reduce environmental impact through concrete projects," said Winkelmann. "Our response is a plan with a 360 degree approach, encompassing our products and our Sant'Agata Bolognese location, taking us towards a more sustainable future while always remaining faithful to our DNA."

The three-phase approach to electrification starts this year. From 2021 to 2022, Lamborghini will focus on "presenting models paying tribute to the company's recent period of continuous success". Expect two new cars in the V12 model line-up to be announced this year.

By the end of 2024, the hybrid transition for the automaker will be well underway. In 2023 Lamborghini will launch its first hybrid series production car and by the end of 2024, the entire range will be electrified. The company's internal target for this phase is to reduce product carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by the beginning of 2025.

In this second phase, Lamborghini is committed to keeping the drive experience in focus as well as the application of carbon fiber materials, which the company sees as crucial in developing their new product lineup.

Lamborghini is committing to bringing the company's first fully-electric car to the market in the second half of the 2020s with a number of electric vehicles on the horizon. The automaker expects to introduce a fourth model.

The automaker has initiated an investment of 1.5 billion euros to create the pathway to electrification. The money will be spent over four years time.

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