Blog > What Happens to Old EV Batteries When They Need to Be Replaced?

What Happens to Old EV Batteries When They Need to Be Replaced?

The EV revolution is upon us. With government mandates across the planet to be emission-free and automakers making electric vehicles front and center of their lineups, electric vehicles are undoubtedly becoming the transportation of the future.

Millions of new electric vehicles mean millions of batteries made from metals including lithium, nickel and cobalt, which leads to a few questions. “What happens to EV batteries when they die?” and “Aren’t all these dead batteries going to be just as bad for the environment filling up our landfills?”

The truth is that EV batteries don’t actually die. Although they slowly lose power over time (approx. 2% of range per year), the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles are considered to be “end-of-life stage” when they hit about 75 percent of their original capacity. Most Canadian manufacturers include an eight-year or 160,000 km warranty on EV batteries. Still, if you maintain your electric vehicle properly, you can extend your EV battery life and have up to 12 years of use. Even after that, there is still enough juice in an EV battery to have a second life.

So, what do we do with used EV batteries?

Some policies prohibit the mass disposal of electric vehicle batteries because it can lead to significant environmental disasters. Luckily there are ways to reuse and recycle EV batteries that work toward a cleaner environment.

Recycling EV Batteries

There are currently three basic methods to recycle lithium-ion batteries. These include: 

  • Pyrometallurgy, also known as smelting
  • Hydrometallurgy
  • Direct recycling

Pyrometallurgy, or smelting, is a common method for recycling lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries. Smelting produces greenhouse gases and only recovers 40 to 50 percent of battery materials. Nickel and cobalt are used to create alloys, while the lithium and electrolytes are lost.

Hydrometallurgy is a chemical process that recovers 95 percent of materials, including lithium. This process also retains the quality of the materials, so they can be used to produce more batteries and cut down on the need for new metals. Shredding involves dissolving ions in a solution made of acids. Different metal salts are extracted from this solution and used to manufacture new rechargeable batteries.

Direct recycling takes place after shredding. Processes like gravity separation can recover valuable materials without chemical changes. Direct recycling has been around for a long time and is just starting to be applied to the recycling of EV batteries. The only downside is that only one type of battery can be recycled at a time, making it a lengthy and resource-intensive process.

Reusing EV Batteries

Because recycling can be expensive, automakers are exploring different ways to repurpose used EV batteries. For instance, in Japan, Nissan uses old EV batteries to power streetlights, and General Motors uses old EV batteries for grid storage.

Business and homeowners can use retired EV batteries to store energy from the grid and their roof-top solar panels.

In BC, a company called Moment Energy is taking used EV batteries and using them to provide reliable and clean-energy storage to urban and remote, diesel-dependent communities and creating new jobs in the process.

As our electrified future evolves, more methods of recycling and repurposing old EV batteries will be developed. What’s important to keep in mind is that these used batteries are not going to waste in our landfills and create environmental damage. EVs are having a significant impact on the planet in a good way, and whether you like it or not, in the next decade, most of us will be driving one.

Companies like are helping change the planet by doing their own form of recycling – giving gently used electric vehicles a second chance at life with people like you! Check out our great selection of quality preowned EVs and help us repurpose one of our amazing electric vehicles by delivering it right to your door. Our 100% online process is good for the environment and easy for you. Come visit us at Drive Clean, Drive Green. Your Electric Vehicle, Delivered.