Toyota joins Redwood Materials’ battery recycling initiative

U.S. startup Redwood Materials Inc. on Tuesday said Toyota Motor North America has become the latest auto industry giant to join its comprehensive electric vehicle battery recycling initiative.

Redwood Materials, whose partners include Ford Motor Co. and EV battery maker Panasonic Holdings Corp., aims to lower EV costs by lessening dependence on imported materials while also reducing the environmental impact. 

The five-year-old firm has focused initial work at a 175-acre campus in northern Nevada, but plans to build an even larger complex in southeastern U.S., its CEO and founder, JB Straubel, said in an interview. Straubel was a co-founder of Tesla Inc. and was the EV maker’s chief technical officer. 

The new facility would be able to supply Toyota’s planned $1.3 billion battery plant in North Carolina, as well as Ford’s planned battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky with South Korea’s SK Innovation Co.

Redwood Materials is ramping up U.S. production of anode and cathode components to 100 gigawatt-hours by 2025, enough to supply batteries for 1 million EVs a year. With its second facility, the production target will be 500 gWh by 2030, enough to supply 5 million EVs a year or more, said Straubel.

Toyota has been building hybrid electric vehicles under the Prius name for more than two decades. With a car’s average lifespan roughly 12 years, some early Prius models will be reaching the end of their useful lives.

Once out of service, their nickel metal hydride batteries can be recycled and materials such as nickel and copper reintroduced into the battery supply chain, where they can supplement raw materials from mines.

Meanwhile, Straubel said Redwood Materials is having “various discussions” with Tesla, but has no deals to announce yet. Tesla’s partners also include Panasonic. 

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