Toyota partners with Tesla co-founder Redwood materials to recycle Prius, EV batteries

Toyota partners with Tesla co-founder Redwood materials to recycle Prius, EV batteries

Redwood Materials, a battery recycler founded by Tesla co-founder and former tech chief JB Straubel, adds Toyota to a growing list of global automakers it is partnering with to create a closed supply chain for materials needed to power electric vehicles. to drive.

The partnership will initially focus on monitoring, recovering and recycling aging batteries from Toyota’s Prius, launched more than two decades ago, and other hybrid-electric vehicles sold by the Japanese auto giant, including Lexus models, at Redwood’s factories in northern Nevada. The Carson City-based company will also look into other uses for old Toyota battery packs, including refurbishing them for use in new hybrids, said co-founder and CEO Straubel. Over time, as Toyota increases sales of all-electric models and starts making batteries in a factory, it’s… building in North CarolinaRedwood will also work to collect and recycle that packaging.

Redwood has already started collecting Toyota batteries, but does not share financial details about its relationship with the automaker. Straubel also declined to say whether Toyota is investing in its startup. One key difference that comes with the Toyota relationship is the sheer number of hybrid vehicles the company has sold in the US over the past 20 years.

“We are excited about this one,” says Straubel Forbes† “It has a huge potential impact (for Redwood) if you look at the existing fleet of electrified Toyotas on the road. It’s really big. And they’re steadfast. They’ve had a few twists and turns on their road to electrification, but I’m confident that they are aggressively doing this now and will continue to do so.”

Toyota’s decision to partner with Redwood harks back to the automaker’s high-impact $50 million investment in Tesla in 2010 and the sale of its shut down Fremont, California auto plant to the then struggling startup. If that deal hadn’t happened when it did, it’s unlikely Tesla would have started building its groundbreaking Model S sedan in 2012 that redefined the space for electric vehicles. Straubel also worked directly with Toyota engineers on a battery-powered version of the RAV4 crossover using Tesla battery packs and motors that the Japanese company has recently sold.

“There are some of the same team members on the Toyota North American” side involved in the Redwood project that Straubel worked with more than a decade ago, he said. “There’s no direct link between the two projects, but it feels like a surprisingly small world, especially in regards to EVs.”

Since 2000, Toyota has sold approximately 2 million Prius models in the US, and hundreds of thousands of other Toyota and Lexus hybrids.

(For more information on JB Straubel and Redwood Materials, see: Tesla Tech Whiz Gets Wealth From Your Old Batteries

Straubel, who in the early days led the development of Tesla’s battery system and motors and oversaw the company’s Nevada Gigafactory, became fixated on solving the long-term challenge of finding enough materials to supply all the batteries needed as the auto industry shifts. from petroleum to electricity. During his time at the EV company, he came to the conclusion that recycling used batteries was the best option to do that.

Redwood, which has raised more than $800 million, has previously said it will partner with Ford and Volvo Cars to collect and recycle their obsolete EV packs, as well as partner with battery giant Panasonic and lithium-ion cell manufacturer Envision. AESC.

Redwood estimates that it processes more than 6 GWh of waste batteries annually, although the amount continues to rise, according to Straubel. From those packs, it mines and sells enough materials and metals, including lithium, cobalt, copper and nickel, to make battery packs for up to 100,000 new EVs. The company plans to start making anode and cathode components by 2025 at a facility in the US for 100 GWh batteries, or enough for more than 1 million electric vehicles per year. By the end of the decade, it hopes to expand output to provide enough battery material for 5 million EVs per year.