VW’s main focus lately is electric vehicles. The worldwide EV transition is just starting. But VW already has an answer to an important question: what should people do with their old Volkswagen EV batteries?

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Introducing the first EV battery recycling plant

Recently, VW opened the world’s first EV battery recycling plant in Salzgitter, Germany. Volkswagen spent more than 10 years developing this plant. Engineers, architects, and scientists worked together to create a highly efficient design. As a result, will eventually reuse 95 percent of the materials from Volkswagen EV batteries.

Apart from the efficiency of recycling, battery disposal is important for safety. Even small batteries in everyday items can be hazardous. For example, certain batteries contain lead and cadmium. These metals can be damaging to humans and toxic to the environment.

Expectedly, EV batteries are more complex than batteries in everyday devices. There are many components in EV batteries. Additionally, they contain minerals like nickel, cobalt, manganese, and lithium.

Even at the end of a battery’s life, certain components are still useful. Currently, VW’s recycling methods recover 60 percent of the materials in EV batteries.  To accomplish this, plant workers melt the batteries down in a large furnace. However, VW scientists are refining the processes at the Salzgitter plant to reuse 95 percent of the battery. This means that very little of the battery will go to waste.

In addition to helping the environment, this method of recycling is essential for producing more batteries for the next wave of vehicles. To achieve its goal of an all-electric future, VW will need to produce many Volkswagen EV batteries. Certain materials from old batteries can be put to use in new ones.

Right now, the Salzgitter plant can handle 3,600 battery packs per year. This capacity will increase as VW perfects its existing systems.

The plan for an all-electric future

VW has several electric vehicle projects in the works. There’s the ID.Buzz, a commercial electric vehicle that VW plans to use as a ridesharing car. Next, there’s the ID.4. VW is actively selling this vehicle in more than 30 European countries along with US and China. Finally, they’re working on Project Trinity, an electric sedan with super-short charging times. These vehicles are planned for release over the next five years.

Volkswagen Project Trinity - electric vehicle silhouette

VW’s EV game-changing Project Trinity

In all, VW has a goal to produce 1.5 million electric cars by 2025. As part of this initiative, they’re pumping 11 billion euros into electric vehicle development. They’re also working on charging stations, manufacturing plants, and other projects to achieve their all-electric goal. The facility for recycling Volkswagen EV batteries is one of many steps on the path to a more sustainable future.