Ford Partners With Startup to Recycle EV Batteries

As electric vehicle sales are rising, automakers are focusing on the life cycle of EV batteries.

Ford F-150 charging


Electric vehicles (EV) will soon become the norm as many automakers make the switch to fully electric cars, but what happens to all those batteries at the end of an EV’s life? Automakers are currently trying to find ways to use the batteries once they are no longer usable, instead of just letting them end up in a landfill. While some have repurposed old batteries to back up power grids, other automakers have yet to find a real long-term solution. It looks like Ford found a solution since it announced a partnership with startup Redwood Materials to build out a battery recycling and a domestic battery supply chain for electric vehicles.

The collaboration will make EVs more sustainable and affordable by localizing production, battery recycling, and creating recycling options for end-of-life vehicles. According to Redwood Materials, its recycling technology can recover up to 95% of the nickel, cobalt, lithium, and copper from batteries, which then can be reused for future battery production.

There are several benefits here since Ford will now be able to reduce the mining of raw materials for its batteries, reduce waste, and also cut the overall cost of new locally produced batteries. Cheaper batteries will drive down the overall cost of EVs, making it easier for buyers to make the switch from a gas-powered car to an electric vehicle.

“We are designing our battery supply chain to create a fully closed-loop lifecycle to drive down the cost of electric vehicles via a reliable U.S. materials supply chain,” said Lisa Drake, Ford’s North America chief operating officer. “This approach will help ensure valuable materials in end-of-life products re-enter the supply chain and do not wind up in landfills, reducing our reliance on the existing commodities supply chain that will be quickly overwhelmed by industry demand.”

Ford is investing $50 million in Redwood Materials to help expand Redwood’s manufacturing footprint. Initially, Redwood Materials will recycle battery packs and scrap metal from Ford at its facilities in Carson City, Nevada. But it’s likely that Redwood Materials will eventually build new recycling centers closer to where the batteries are being produced. The recycled materials will then be sent back to Ford to be reused for new EVs. 

Ford and Redwood Materials

Redwood Materials

The partnership will also help scale battery production through several BlueOvalSK battery plants in North America. “By building out a domestic, sustainable supply chain with recycled materials, Ford can drive down battery costs and help protect the environment,” Ford stated.

In addition to the investment in Redwood Materials, Ford also plans to invest more than $30 billion in electrification through 2025. Ford has made some significant gains in the EV segment with the recent release of the Mustang Mach-E and the upcoming F-150 Lighting. Ford has also confirmed other EVs are coming, including an electric version of the popular Ford Explorer.

“Increasing our nation’s production of batteries and their materials through domestic recycling can serve as a key enabler to improve the environmental footprint of U.S. manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, decrease cost and, in turn, drive up domestic adoption of electric vehicles,” said Redwood Materials CEO JB Straubel.

Other automakers are making battery recycling a priority, which is essential as the demand for EVs continues to increase each year. Tesla recently announced that 100 percent of its batteries are recycled and General Motors has also confirmed that it is working with a company called Li-Cycle to recycle material from its Ultium batteries. Redwood Materials also recycles batteries for Nissan.