In a recent interview with Daniel Yergin at CERAweek 2022, JB Straubel, one of Tesla’s co-founders and chief technical officer (CTO) said that electric vehicle batteries should last for about 15 years.
Engineer Straubel has vast knowledge about EV batteries and was responsible for Tesla’s battery development until 2019. He led cell design, supply chain and the first Gigafactory concept through the production ramp of the Model 3.
On leaving Tesla, Straubel’s focus was on Redwood Materials, a Canadian-based company that provides end-of-life solutions for batteries including those from electric and hybrid vehicles, which he founded in 2017.
In the interview, with Daniel Yergin at CERAweek 2022 on 28th March, Yergin asked: “At what point does the battery life come to an end?” Straubel replied:
“It’s a subjective thing depending on what people’s goal is for the car, but I think it’s easily going to be 15 years in most cases. I think people will probably keep the batteries in their cars for a long time and really extract as much utility as they can.
I also think battery life will probably track with the vehicle life. Personally, I think it’s probably less likely that people will replace a new battery in an old car, given how fast technology is changing and how much better a modern EV might be than a 15-year-old EV at that time.”
According to Inside EVs, the best battery warranty currently offered by an EV manufacturer is 10 years or 100,000 miles (for Kia’s Niro EV, EV6 and Soul EV). This means that Straubel believes that batteries should last 50% longer.
When asked about Redwood Materials’ production, Straubel said:
“Today we’re processing in the order of 8-10 GWh a year of material. It’s enough for hundreds of thousands of cars of EVs worth of battery materials.” He added: “This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is largely not EV material yet. These are all the other applications that need to be dealt with in a good way. As EVs start, this unmanufacturing industry and its linkage back to the supply chain has to map exactly how fast we are growing EVs, maybe by a lag of 10-15 years.”
See the full interview below
What does this mean for vehicle recyclers?
Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and the Executive Director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) said:
“This is important information for the auto recycling sector as it indicates that the batteries will outlive the vehicle, indicating those batteries have value at the vehicle’s end of life. Many original estimates predicted batteries would only last eight years, so they would need to be replaced (at great expense) during the life of the vehicle.
EV Battery = Asset (not waste).”