Friday, November 8, 2019

UPDATED—"Automakers Need to Start Worrying About the Batteries Lurking in Older Electric Vehicles" (plus some M&A speculation from Markets Live)

Update below.
Original post:
A threefer, from oldest to newest with the possible acquisition being a few hours old.

From The Truth about Cars, August 5:
After a few years, most of us begin to notice our smartphones have developed an inability to hold a charge like they used to. The fix used to be pretty simple, no worse than swapping a couple of AAs into the remote. Order a new battery online, pop off the back of the device, and replace the run-down cell with a fresh one. Unfortunately, this simple act grew more difficult as manufacturers gradually decided to seal off access to your phone’s internals — mimicking the plight facing EV owners whose energy source is losing capacity.

A number of electric vehicles in the United States are about to celebrate their 10th birthday. A bunch of them are Nissan Leafs, the first mainstream BEV made widely available in the U.S. market. At the same time, customers have begun complaining about diminished range, with some asking for a battery refurbishment program like the one enjoyed by customers living in Japan.

So far, the best they’ve received is a confident “maybe” from the manufacturer. It might behoove them to expedite things and pull the trigger. Automakers are running behind in terms of establishing a global solution to aging EV batteries, and they’re risking a lot by not already having one in place. 
For many consumers, swapping an old battery pack with new one is prohibitively expensive.

Replacing the comparatively small units found in a hybrid vehicle can cost anywhere between $2,000 to over $7,000. However, the worst you’ll have to endure on a hybrid up until that point is a slew of warning notifications stating your battery is dying until the car finally fails to start. In the interim, you might also notice a modest MPG reduction. But you’ll probably have to start worrying about other major repairs by the time that happens, perhaps propelling you into a new car.

Purely electric vehicles are different. Range will gradually become an issue, worsening every year until the car becomes unusable for anything other than a trip around the block. As if that weren’t enough, their larger batteries cost quite a bit more.
Automotive News highlighted this fact in an interview with an early adopter named Ravi Kan-ade. Since purchasing his 2012 Nissan Leaf SL, he’s watched its charging capacity diminish by half over 60,000 miles of driving. That’s not ideal, especially considering the car’s 24-kWh battery started out with an operational range of just 84 miles. He’s dying for the refurbishment option....MUCH MORE
From the University of Birmingham via the AAAS' EurekAlert:
Recycling technologies for end-of-life lithium ion batteries (LIBs) are not keeping pace with the rapid rise of electric vehicles, storing up a potentially huge waste management problem for the future, according to a new study.
A review of lithium ion battery recycling led by the University of Birmingham suggests that, while electric vehicles (EVs) offer a solution for cutting pollution, governments and industry need to act now to develop a robust recycling infrastructure to meet future recycling need.

The study, carried out in collaboration with researchers at the universities of Newcastle and Leicester, is published today in the 150th anniversary issue of Nature.

Dr Gavin Harper, Faraday Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, is lead author on the paper. He said: "The recycling challenge is not straightforward: there is enormous variety in the chemistries, shapes and designs of lithium ion batteries used in EVs. Individual cells are formed into modules, which are then assembled into battery packs. To recycle these efficiently, they must be disassembled and the resulting waste streams separated. As well as lithium, these batteries contain a number of other valuable metals, such as cobalt, nickel and manganese, and there is the potential to improve the processes which are currently used to recover these for reuse."

The issue of LIB waste is already significant and is set to grow as demand for EVs increases. Based on the 1 million electric cars sold in 2017, researchers calculated that 250,000 tonnes or half a million cubic metres of unprocessed pack waste will result when these vehicles reach the end of their lives...MORE
And from the Financial Times' Markets Live, PM, is Paul Murphy, NH is Neil Hume.
RAW is breaking rumour on things that might affect stocks that has exhibited an almost uncanny propensity to manifest in the real world hours or days later.
Umicore is a major lithium and cobalt recycler:

PM At the age of 13 years and 18 days, ML died. End of story
PM Right! RAW!

NH anyone enough reminiscing
NH yes

NH let's crack on with some RAW

NH what have we got?

PM Umicome
PM Of Belgium
NH Umicore
NH I think you will find
NH is the correct spelling

PM Not a done deal as yet, but the best ML usually knowledgable sources say Total of France is having a look

PM Sorry Umicore!
NH interesting idea

PM In fact, I can give this a BANDIT rating!....

That is about as timely as it gets.
Here's the University of Birmingham's paper in the 150th anniversary edition of the journal Nature:
UPDATE: "French energy group Total denies interest in Umicore"