In its latest step towards electric vehicle (EV) leadership, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) is partnering with Redwood Materials, Inc. (Redwood) to create a supply chain to recycle Volkswagen and Audi EV batteries in the US. The overall goal is to provide accessible, convenient, and more sustainable electric mobility for American drivers.
This partnership represents an integral step in growing North America’s domestic EV industry, as it advances Volkswagen’s strategy to localize all major competencies for its electric transformation. For Redwood, this venture propels the company’s goal of creating the nation’s only closed-loop supply chain for lithium-ion batteries. It’s truly a win-win collaboration for both partners, and ultimately, consumers and the environment.
“For Volkswagen, going all-in on electrification means driving sustainable solutions at every turn,” says Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “Redwood Materials is a great partner to help us accelerate EV adoption in America. This collaboration allows us to move closer toward our goal of closing the loop for a circular EV economy, giving American consumers yet another reason to go electric.”
Holistic Approach and Sustainable Utilization
The new EV battery recycling collaboration will be facilitated by VWGoA’s nationwide network of approximately 1,000 dealers, starting with the Volkswagen and Audi brands. Key to the collaboration is a holistic approach to the battery lifecycle. By allowing for more sustainable utilization of battery components from the moment vehicles leave the assembly line through the end of their lifecycle, the collaboration can support local battery capacity and expertise as Volkswagen continues its transition to an electrified vehicle portfolio.
With Volkswagen Group brands planning to introduce more than 25 new battery electric vehicles by 2030, VWGoA aims to begin establishing EV battery recycling capabilities for current and future vehicles in North America now. In addition, the new EV battery recycling collaboration will integrate prototype batteries from Volkswagen’s research facilities, such as the Battery Engineering Lab (BEL) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Redwood will work directly with dealers and Volkswagen facilities to identify end-of-life EV batteries and materials, and then safely package and transport them to its Nevada facilities.
“The electric transformation means making commitments in many areas throughout our business,” says Daniel Weissland, President, Audi of America. “In addition to our robust lineup of fully electric Audi e-tron models available now, having like-minded partners like Redwood Materials in place to further reduce environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of every electric vehicle is critical.”
Circular EV Economy
Each year, Redwood’s facilities in Nevada recycle more than six GWh of lithium-ion batteries – the equivalent of 60,000 EV batteries. The materials that come to Redwood consist of end-of-life consumer devices, battery production scrap, and EV batteries, and represent the vast majority of lithium-ion batteries recycled in North America today. Redwood extracts key elements – such as cobalt, copper, nickel, and lithium – then refines and remanufactures these into critical battery components before delivering those products back to domestic battery cell manufacturers.
The transition to electric transportation and clean energy is quickly coming and the batteries powering these technologies present an incredible opportunity. “As more and more batteries reach end-of-life each year, an increasing and infinitely recyclable resource becomes available,” says J.B. Straubel, CEO of Redwood Materials. “Redwood and Volkswagen Group of America share a vision to create a domestic, circular supply chain for batteries that will help improve the environmental footprint of lithium-ion batteries, decrease cost and, in turn, increase access and adoption of electric vehicles.”
The collaboration between Volkswagen and Redwood reflects a shared vision for a circular EV economy that, if adopted industry-wide, could help reduce battery costs and the need to mine and ship raw materials. Looking ahead, Volkswagen is aiming for 55% of its U.S. sales to be fully electric by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, the company is transforming the North American region into an industrial EV powerhouse, incorporating localized EV engineering and R&D capabilities, EV assembly and component production for its brands, and plans for dedicated battery cell production facilities.