The BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture (BBA) has developed a closed-loop for the reuse of the raw materials nickel, lithium and cobalt from high-voltage batteries that are no longer suitable for use in electric vehicles for the first time in China.
BBA is working with a local recycler that dismantles retired batteries and uses innovative technology to recover a high percentage of the raw materials nickel, lithium and cobalt from the battery cells.
Jochen Goller, head of BMW Group Region China: “In light of the growing scarcity of finite resources and rising commodity prices, it is especially important to push forward with the circular economy, increase the percentage of reusable materials and reduce our dependence on raw materials. The BMW Group will expand its recycling concept in China in the future – which will not only contribute to environmental protection but also effectively support China’s transition to a low-CO2 economy.”
The raw materials obtained in this way are then used in the production of new battery cells for the BMW Group. The closed-loop material cycle conserves resources and, at the same time, reduces CO2 emissions by 70%, compared to using newly extracted primary material.
China’s current policies require a high-voltage battery tracing system to be established to ensure batteries can be tracked and recycled once retired. The BMW Group has developed a system for this, with coding that enables seamless traceability of batteries throughout their lifecycle. The coding ensures batteries from the entire value chain, from initial test vehicles to vehicles already on the market, can be professionally recycled.
Once returned, the batteries are evaluated for potential continued use.
The BMW Group began using end-of-life batteries with a high residual capacity in forklift trucks at BBA plants in China back in 2020. The plan is for these “second-life applications” for batteries to be expanded, going forward, to include pallet lifting trucks and stationary energy storage units with charging capabilities.
Batteries that are not disposed of properly impact the environment and waste valuable raw material resources that could be used further.
For this reason, the BMW Group operates according to the four principles of “Re:think, Re:duce, Re:use and Re:cycle”, together with its suppliers, to maximize the recycling rate for battery raw materials and to use all resources responsibly.
The BMW Group became the first German automotive manufacturer to join the Business Ambition for 1.5° C campaign launched by the Science-Based Targets Initiative and is committed to the goal of complete climate neutrality throughout the entire value chain by 2050 at the latest.
The company is thus also participating in the international “Race to Zero” initiative.