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ELV Industry Forum – How the ELV Sector is Adapting to the Surge of Electric Vehicles

The end-of-life vehicle (ELV) sector is undergoing significant changes to adapt to the influx of electric vehicles (EVs) in scrapyards. This transformation was a key focus at the ELV Industry Forum held on June 4, 2024, at the deconstructor Re-Source By Indra in Pruniers-en-Sologne. The event brought together automotive recycling professionals to discuss the necessary adaptations for safely processing EV batteries—a crucial challenge for the industry, according to


ELV Industry Forum - How the ELV Sector is Adapting to the Surge of Electric Vehicles p
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The ELV Industry Forum, which was open to all stakeholders in the sector, not just members of the Indra network, attracted around 450 participants. The forum addressed several pressing issues, including the integration of recycled materials into new vehicle production under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principle, the new obligations for Marketers (MEM), and the challenges posed by the growing number of electric vehicles arriving in scrapyards.

One significant concern is the parallel market in wrecks. Approximately 30% of ELVs are processed through the underground sector, leading to substantial losses for regulated ELV centers. The latest MEM regulations aim to increase collection rates to over 65% in 2024, 68% in 2026, and 70% in 2028. Achieving these targets requires raising public awareness about the importance of proper disposal and the dangers of using unregulated scavengers, who often lure individuals with attractive advertisements. It is estimated that around 400,000 ELVs bypass the regulated sector annually, highlighting the scale of the issue.

Insurance is a significant source of vehicles for scrapyards, but the general public also plays a crucial role. However, the ELV market is shrinking due to the increasing average age of vehicles, which rose from 11.6 years in 2022 to 11.9 years in 2023. As motorists keep their vehicles longer, fewer are being scrapped, impacting the availability of parts for the circular economy. Although these parts are the main source of income for scrapyards, the scarcity of raw materials could slow down the market further.

The arrival of electrified vehicles is a primary concern for the sector. Indra Automobile Recycling, with its extensive network of 327 ELV centers, is at the forefront of addressing these challenges. Electric and hybrid cars currently account for about 1% of total entries, but this number is growing, particularly among damaged vehicles. This trend necessitates significant changes for professionals, starting with enhanced safety measures around EVs due to the risk of fire. The fire at the SNAM factory in Viviez, which stored batteries, underscored the potential dangers.

Battery diagnostics are crucial in this new landscape. Allan Anchisi, Indra’s director of operations, emphasized the importance of securing batteries by first determining their level of danger and proper storage method. This can involve placing batteries in specific containers or sarcophagus tanks capable of automatic flooding if temperatures rise. Conducting these diagnostics requires specialized skills, as fires can ignite in batteries days after an accident. Currently, manufacturers do not provide comprehensive instructions for handling electric vehicle bodies, leaving recyclers to develop their expertise through training and experience.

Training recyclers to handle battery cars is essential. After initial storage, batteries undergo further diagnostics to check component conditions and de-energize circuits. The modules are then disconnected, requiring special and costly packaging for transport. Authorized conveyors, similar to those with B1VL-B2VL training for repairers, are necessary for this process. ELV centers must invest in storage tools, monitoring systems, and detection elements while balancing the financial aspects. Reselling a battery or its modules demands substantial structuring and investment.

Ultimately, batteries are one of the few components of EVs that can be resold. Unlike thermal vehicles, electric vehicles have fewer reusable parts, especially those with gigacasting designs. While some dress elements remain, it may not be sufficient. Indra Automobile Recycling is focusing on training its network members, emphasizing the importance of knowing the battery’s location and dismantling process. The entire operation can take two hours on a Renault Zoé and twice as long on other models, requiring coordination between technicians. Some scrapyards currently refuse to accept damaged EVs, but this approach is unsustainable. In the next decade, an estimated 630,000 tonnes of lithium batteries will enter ELV centers, necessitating urgent adaptation and preparation across the sector.