Electric car batteries can be insanely expensive, so it makes sense that recycling these batteries can also be an expensive process. Not only are these batteries large, heavy, and have very particular shipping requirements but the recycling process itself is difficult.
So, how much does it cost to recycle your Tesla battery? Fortunately for the owner of the Tesla, getting the battery recycled does not cost you anything. Tesla will cover the entire cost of the process. It ends up costing Tesla around $7,000 to recycle an electric car battery though. This is one of the big upsides to owning an electric car.
No car will last forever. Regardless of whether it is gasoline-powered, diesel-powered, electric, hybrid, or hydrogen fuel cell, major components will eventually wear it and fail. In the case of an internal combustion engine vehicle, the major components are the engine itself and the transmission. In an electric car it is the lithium-ion battery.
Recycling allows for materials that have served a purpose to be repurposed again. Once a part goes bad, recycling is taking components and making them usable again. This is not always for the same purpose either. Some plastics that could have been on a car could be recycled and could be used in a milk jug in the future. There are times when parts from a car can be recycled and then thrown back into circulation on another car. Depending on the actual materials and their use case, this will vary from instance to instance.
What Are The Main Components In Cost To Recycle A Tesla Battery?
So, what components add to the cost of Tesla batteries? The difficult piece is just the overall processing of the battery in order to get to the individual components of it. First off, these batteries are massive and heavy. While the core of the battery is lithium there are a wide variety of other materials. Each of these different materials needs to be isolated.
Oftentimes, these batteries are shredded. This turns the giant battery pack into lots of smaller more manageable pieces. After this, there still comes the work of separating the specific materials. Heat is the other method often used to recycle batteries. By melting down the battery, you can make it more manageable. You still need a way to then split up your now gooey mess.
That is what makes recycling a Tesla battery so expensive. The processes are very complicated. In addition, these processes often also require special equipment to be able to perform. Even once the materials have been extracted properly, reprocessing them into something new can also be difficult and expensive.
Why Does It Cost So Much To Recycle A Tesla Battery?
There is a lot of room for improvement as far as electric car battery recycling goes. The first big thing that can be improved is the recycling infrastructure. Recycling lithium-ion batteries is far more complicated than recycling most other metals. The processes are more difficult and even the transportation regulations can be very difficult. As such, there are not a lot of facilities across the country or even around the world that recycle electric car batteries.
Over time, we will likely see this infrastructure increase drastically. As the processes become simpler to implement, it will allow recycling companies to profit more from recycling electric car batteries. As such, more competition will start to emerge.
As the infrastructure is currently limited, electric car batteries often have to travel large distances to a recycling facility. This can be extremely costly. Transporting lithium-ion batteries requires special containers to hold the extremely heavy batteries. As such, it is often more cost-effective to just ship an entire car across the country than it is to ship just the battery. As more and more recycling facilities are available locally, the need for long trips to transport the batteries will disappear. This will significantly help reduce the cost of recycling the batteries.
The processes also have a lot of room for improvement. Currently, the lithium-ion batteries are shredded up into small pieces. These small pieces can then be processed. That is how you can get materials such as nickel or cobalt back out of the battery. Through this process, parts of the battery are lost completely. Particularly, the anode and cathode both are lost. By being able to preserve and reuse both of those, it would significantly reduce the amount of work needed to build new ones and help reduce the environmental impact of the recycling process.
There is a lot of work underway already to move to newer methods for this. There are several researchers who have found a way to use ultrasonic waves to recycle both the anode and the cathode. This is reported to save about 60% of the cost of using new materials. That is a huge jump in the cost of recycling that has yet to be implemented but is already being patented. As technology like this becomes more widespread throughout the country, we will see simpler, cheaper recycling with more incentives and the overall process will be much greener.
Additionally, there are other methods being studied for saving critical components of a battery. For example, the Department of Energy has launched a program known as ReCell. This program is looking to use thermal and solvent-based methods to preserve the cathode of these electric car batteries.
A large problem in the US is that hardly any cathodes are produced in the US. As such, if a battery is being recycled, the materials have to be sent out to a different country, turned back into a cathode, and then sent back to the US. This obviously costs quite a bit more than if there were more cathode manufacturers in the country. A big problem the US will have to overcome if they want recycling to be profitable is building better infrastructure. Every dependency on other countries leads to increased costs of recycling and a larger overall environmental impact from recycling.
As you can see, there are a few big things that need to change in the electric battery recycling world before it becomes profitable for those involved and also make sense from an environmental perspective. We will continue to see the things we have mentioned be implemented over the next few years as well as we will likely be surprised by several new technologies that have not even been considered up to this point.
Can A Third Party Companies Recycle A Tesla Battery For Cheaper?
You may wonder if there are any other places out there where you can get your electric car recycled. You do not have to just use Tesla for recycling. There are companies that will handle this recycling for you. As recycling technology improves and as electric cars become more and more popular, we will see more and more of these companies pop up.
First off, you will want to google what there is near you. There are usually a lot of different options. If there is a facility near you, you can take your battery straight there. Oftentimes, you can even take your entire electric car there and they will remove the battery for you. Additionally, you can have the battery removed by a certified mechanic and shipped off to the nearest recycling facility.
There is another option that is becoming more and more popular. Slowly, everything is shifting towards remote service. Nowadays, you can buy a car online and have it delivered to your door. No more going to different dealerships to try to find what you want. You can get it all ordered from the comfort of your home.
Likewise, you can get your electric car battery recycled from the comfort of your home. There are many recyclers who will do next day pickups in any state in the United States. That means no matter where you are, you can have your battery taken away to be recycled quickly.
As the infrastructure behind electric cars grows, the options for recycling your electric car battery will continue to grow. You will see far more local options for recycling as well as more incentives for getting your battery recycled. With the huge push for electric cars that are being made by all automotive manufacturers, there is no way that the electric battery recycling infrastructure and technology will not improve significantly.
How Much Does It Cost Tesla To Build A Brand-new Battery Pack vs Recycling An Old One?
So, how much will it actually cost Tesla in order to recycle a bad battery? Fortunately for the car owner, this recycling process does not cost anything. You can have them remove and recycle your battery completely free. Unfortunately for Tesla, this does cost them quite a bit of money though.
The actual cost of the battery being recycled will vary slightly from model to model and depending on the specific battery used on it. It costs about $4.50 to recycle each pound of material in the battery. Generally, this equates to about $6,750 to recycle a battery. Is that even worth it?
A new battery will usually cost you about $12,000-25,000. For the cost of $6,750, this can often make sense. The materials are then available to be reused either for use in a new electric car or for another purpose. These materials no longer need to be mined, processed, manufactured, and shipped from an overseas mining facility. While Tesla is not necessarily making tons of money off this process, it is having an effect on the environmental impact of building electric cars. This aligns with Tesla’s vision for a greener world and also will help support the electric car infrastructure.