In a bid to highlight what he calls "hybrid recycling," Eric Lundgren converted a '97 BMW into an electric car that has a longer driving range than the Tesla Model S P100D, and at a fraction of the cost.
The CEO of an electronic recycling firm bought a junkyard car, added a bunch of used lithium ion 18650, laptop, and electric car batteries totaling 130 kilowatts of capacity, plus an electric motor and controller, and ended up with an 88% recycled electric vehicle that can drive longer on a single charge than a Tesla that costs ten times as much. Eric Lundgren dubbed the new vehicle Phoenix, an apt moniker for a car built mostly with what others consider waste.
According to the following video, the Phoenix can drive for at least 382 miles before recharging, and although it's definitely not in the same league as a Tesla in terms of its looks or features, it's a great example of reuse and repurposing of components, which is something that really should get a lot more play these days. The Phoenix is virtually stripped, and only has two seats in it, but the point of the project wasn't to build an EV that looks great or can carry the most passengers, but to put "waste" back to work for cleaner transportation.
In an interview with Inside EVs, Lundgren says the Phoenix was built in 35 days, for about $13,000, and the battery bank is made up of cells that would normally get trashed:
"The batteries all came from cable boxes for your home TV that had little 18650 batteries in them. 2,800 milliamp, 18650 batteries. We used those. Then we used laptop batteries from a well-known brand that I called up and said, “Hey, do you mind if I use your laptop batteries?” Then we used EV batteries that the EV industry said, “Nope. They’re dead.” That car company said, “Well, these ones are toast.”
"What we found was, when you open up the pack, 80 percent of the actual batteries are perfectly working. They’re perfect. The problem is that once over 20 percent degradation occurs in the pack, in America we say it’s trash. We aggregated all these batteries and made this giant 130-kilowatt power battery pack." - Eric Lundgren
The idea of hybrid recycling, where individual electronics components that still work (even though the product as a whole may not) are reused and repurposed instead of getting trashed, is something that Lundgren says could be a key solution in our e-waste epidemic. Rather than break down components such as battery cells, capacitors, RAM, and chips for their material value, these types of electronics could feasibly be removed, tested, and then repurposed in another product or project.
"Re-Use is the purest form of Recycling. It creates ZERO carbon footprint. Re-Using parts/components within broken/obsolete electronics is called “Hybrid Recycling”. This is a much-needed and often missing part of the Recycling Ecosystem." - Lundgren
An earlier video, which some people thought was a hoax or prank because it came out on April 1, shows the Phoenix set what Lundgren claims is the "World Record for Electric Vehicle Range" at highway speeds of 70+ mph, driving for 340+ miles on a single charge against a Tesla Model S, a Chevy Bolt, and a Nissan LEAF. On that day, the LEAF drove for 81 miles before the battery was dead, the Tesla covered 238 miles, and the Bolt managed 271 miles, while the Phoenix blew a fuse at 340 miles, with about a third of its battery capacity left.
Lundgren stresses that he isn't starting an electric car company, nor is he urging people to build their own electric vehicles from reused parts (although that's certainly one way to get an affordable electric car), but rather is doing it to bring more awareness of the potential for hybrid recycling in the hopes of influencing change in "giant companies" which can effectively put it to work on a large scale.
"The Phoenix is a demonstration of Hybrid Recycling. Hybrid Recycling is the Re-Integration of working electronic components into new applications to serve new electronic life-cycles. This is a much more efficient solution in comparison to Landfills & Scrap Processing electronics." - Lundgren