Can electric vehicle batteries be recycled?
Batteries can have a second life as static energy storage after being used in an electric vehicle, and they can be recycled at the end of their lifespan. However, this isn’t always happening.
The European Commission is considering setting targets for recycled content in new battery packs, warning that lithium – which is cheaper to produce from new than to recover from end-of-life batteries – is too often wasted.
Battery manufacturers are already preparing for an influx of recyclable materials as larger numbers of electric vehicles reach the end of their life. Northvolt, which will soon supply BMW and Volkswagen Group, will open a pilot recycling plant in Sweden this year, with a full-scale facility following in 2022. By 2030, it’s targeting a 50% share of recycled content in new cells.
Can the grid cope with everyone charging their electric cars?
Absolutely. National Grid ESO says peak demand was at its highest in 2002, and it has fallen 16% since as appliances become more efficient and homes and businesses add solar panels. With smarter chargepoints enabling sessions to be scheduled to avoid demand spikes, and energy to be returned to the grid, it’s only projecting a 10% rise in peak demand once everyone switches to electric vehicles. That’s still lower than in 2002.
To find out more about how the electrical grid is changing, click here.
Is manufacturing an electric vehicle bad for the environment?
Electric vehicles do require more energy to build than their combustion engine counterparts. But that’s only half of the story.
According to a recent Volkswagen Group study, manufacturing the ID.3 electric hatchback (including processing raw materials) produces almost twice as much CO2 as the equivalent petrol or diesel Golf. However, it adds, even without factoring in the carbon-neutral factory where the ID.3 is built, lifecycle CO2 emissions comfortably undercut both versions of the Golf.
This isn’t an unusual scenario. New research suggests whole-life CO2 emissions for an electric car are lower than a petrol equivalent in almost every country across the world.
Meanwhile, vehicle manufacturers are shifting factories to renewable energy, creating local supply chains to avoid long-distance shipping and CO2 emissions for electricity production are falling too. The average carbon intensity of the UK grid was two thirds lower in 2020 than in 2013, and the ambition is net zero emissions by 2025. All of these steps help to extend the environmental benefits compared to a petrol or diesel car.
What grants are available for EVs?
List prices for electric vehicles are still higher than their petrol or diesel counterparts, but the UK Government is providing funding to help close the gap.
Will I be able to drive a petrol or diesel car after 2030?
Yes. The UK Government is banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030, and hybrids will follow five years later 2. There are no plans to ban the use of vehicles sold beforehand, but it is possible in the longer term that future clean air zones could restrict their access to city centers or charge for entry.