What Does Tesla Do With Old Batteries?


If you know anything about electric cars, you probably know that lithium-ion batteries are the most expensive component in the entire vehicle. The materials that make up the battery are difficult to mine and process and this largely leads to the cost of the battery itself.

So, what does Tesla do with these batteries when they go bad? When a Tesla battery goes bad, they recycle them. Tesla proudly claims that they recycle 100% of their electric batteries and that none go to the landfill. This claim adds to their environmentally-friendly face and can help to further reduce the impact of them making their cars.

No matter what type of car you have, it will eventually die on you. Traditionally, when an internal combustion engine dies, you have a few options. You can try to part your car out to get money for the different components of the vehicle. This is appealing to people who own the same vehicle as they can get parts that they need for their own vehicle or get backup spare parts, so they have them for the future. This usually helps you get some money for your now junked car and helps others get parts for a fraction of the cost of new ones.

Lastly, many junkyards will buy your car. You can usually get a couple of hundred bucks for a used car regardless of the make, model, and it is condition. Oftentimes, these junkyard companies will even come to pick it up for you and haul it away. This is a good way to get a last bit of money out of your broken-down car.

With a lot of the materials in a lithium-ion battery being so rare and difficult to obtain, recycling is a huge concern. If we continue to use lithium as expected, we will completely run out of lithium within the next 100 years. As such, recycling becomes incredibly important as it allows to put some already mined lithium back into circulation. Tesla is one of the biggest promoters of this. They proudly claim that they recycle 100% of their electric car batteries when they are no longer useable. 

Where Does Tesla Send Old EV Batteries?

So, if your battery dies on you, where exactly will Tesla send it? This depends on where exactly you live. Tesla has several Tesla battery facilities that specifically handle these types of things. In addition, they are partnered with several other corporations to help handle the recycling of these batteries.

If your battery dies on you, Tesla will handle the removal for you. This process can be dangerous and requires intricate knowledge of the procedure to be done safely. In addition, these batteries can be over 1,000 lbs, so you need special equipment in order to be able to move it. Once removed, the battery is shipped to the battery facility where it can then be taken apart.

Once taken apart, the individual components can be recycled as they can be, and the precious materials can be extracted. A portion of these materials can be reused in new electric cars, but the majority will be used for other purposes. So, if you do have a battery fail on you, just take it to a local Tesla technician and they can get the recycling process going for you.

Tesla Claims That 100% Of Its batteries Are Recycled, But How Much, And What Components, Of Each Battery, Are Recycled?

You may wonder how much of your electric car battery can be recycled. It turns out, that lithium-ion batteries are great for being recycled. In fact, your electric car battery will get re-purposed long before it makes it to a recycling center.

When your electric car battery gets to the point where it is no longer usable for driving a car, it actually still has quite a bit of life to it. In fact, it generally will still have around 80% of its charge at that point. As such, these batteries will often get connected to the electric grid. These batteries help supplement alternative energy sources such as windmills, solar panels, and hydropower. The batteries can hold a charge so that even if the weather is not optimal, the system can output a steady amount of power. 

Once the batteries are no longer usable there, they can be transferred to a recycling facility. Here is where the battery will actually be broken down. There are a lot of expensive materials in an electric car battery but the most expensive is cobalt. This material is the most valuable one obtained through recycling. In addition, lithium, nickel, and many other materials can be recycled. In fact, over 90% of the battery can be recycled. 

In addition, there is a significant amount of wiring and plastics that make up the entire battery. These can be removed fairly easily and can also be recycled. There are places where people are required to recycle up to a certain amount of the battery. This is often the low-hanging fruit that companies will shoot for. For example, the EU created a Battery Directive in which they require that at least 50% of a battery gets recycled. Without expertise in recycling, the battery cell itself can be much more difficult.

How Much Does It Cost For Tesla To Recycle A Used Battery?

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.

Are There Any Other Companies In The World That Can Recycle Used EV Batteries?

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.

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