Stellantis, the company formerly-known as Fiat-Chrysler before a key merger and the manufacturer of iconic vehicles like the Jeep brand and Dodge’s muscle cars, recently announced a plan and a partnership to make sure more EVs get batteries recycled at end-of-life. In this article, I’m going to explain why this is important and then get into the details of the deal.
Why This Matters
When it comes to EVs, a common smear tactic against them is to declare that they’re “not green.” It’s an easy cheap move to pull off in many cases because the general public knows so little about transportation technology. Most long-time readers here know about things like EV vs ICE thermal efficiency, battery chemistries, and grid power mixes, but the average person has a lot of space in their heads for clever half-truths and outright lies.
For example, many anti-EV trolls (many of whom are employed by foreign governments) will point out that EVs are “powered by fossil fuels” or even “coal-powered.” The average person assumes that an EV needs as much energy as an ICE vehicle to move, so if the electricity comes from non-renewable sources, that EVs must be just as bad as ICE. But, even when powered by coal, the EV usually comes out cleaner because it uses less energy to go the same distance, making for lower per-mile emissions. One lesser-known fact is all it takes to debunk the simple lie.
Batteries are another surface upon which the purveyors of anti-EV propaganda attack. If you’d believe right-wing media and the trolls, all EV batteries come from the most environmentally destructive mines imaginable, and the raw materials are extracted by child slaves. Armed with these “facts” and the lies of the last paragraph, they argue that EVs are not only just as dirty as ICE, but are even worse for both the environment and for human rights.
But, they don’t stop there. The libs must be owned harder by pointing out that EV batteries are going to wear out (in as little as five years) and that the batteries are going to become the equivalent of hundreds of superfund sites when these batteries get abandoned in a junkyard or chucked into a landfill. The truth, of course, is that (with the notable exception of cars like the Nissan LEAF) EV batteries last a lot longer than the trolls say, and that they often last for longer than a typical ICE engine.
Plus, they’re so valuable that nobody leaves them to rot or puts them in a landfill. Batteries with good range in them will get reused in other cars, including EV conversions. Batteries with too much range loss for reasonable automotive use can still serve for another decade doing stationary energy storage. So, the real lifetime of an EVs battery is usually longer than 20 years.
But, we do know that batteries don’t last forever. Eventually, even if reused, they’ll get to the point where they aren’t useful for anything, but that doesn’t mean that the trolls are right and that they eventually pollute drinking water and cause everything from impotence to hangnails. There are serious and well-established efforts globally to recycle batteries instead of discarding them, and the minerals are simply too valuable to throw away.
Stellantis Announces A Deal That Removes All Doubt
The last possible objection to battery recycling is whether it will really, really happen. This requires arguing that the free market will act against its own financial interests to deliver a win for right-wing trolls, so it’s obviously a junk argument, but recent news from Stellantis shows us that yet another auto manufacturer is serious enough about recycling to lay down Benjamins.
A few days ago, Stellantis N.V. and Orano announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint venture, which will be dedicated to recycling end-of-life electric vehicle batteries. It will also recycle scrap from upcoming Stellantis gigafactories in Europe and North America.
According to the company, this strategic collaboration will bolster Stellantis’ position in the electric-vehicle battery value chain, ensuring reliable access to cobalt, nickel, and lithium — essential resources for the electrification and energy transition. At the end of the day, battery materials are battery materials, so developing recycled sources for them helps the company compete in the global EV market.
“The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals has confirmed the need to find solutions like this one with Orano to meet the challenge of natural resource scarcity and sustainability,” said Stellantis Senior Vice President, Circular Economy Business Unit Alison Jones. “Guided by our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan, Stellantis is committed to shifting its production and consumption model by fulfilling its circular economy commitment.”
According to the companies, the joint venture between Orano and Stellantis leverages Orano’s innovative, low-carbon technology to recover materials from lithium-ion batteries and manufacture new cathode materials. With a hydrometallurgical plant in Dunkirk, France, the venture aims to close the loop of a circular economy and provide Stellantis with fresh cells. The company claims exceptional recovery rates of metals, exceeding 90%, which should further enable OEMs to meet European Commission recycling rate requirements for electric vehicle batteries.
“We are delighted with this partnership with a major player such as Stellantis to work together in the recycling of used electric batteries,” said Orano Group Director of Innovation, R&D and Nuclear Medicine, Magnets and Batteries Guillaume Dureau. “We are proud to bring our expertise and know-how with our innovative and disruptive process which allows a real closed loop. Orano continues its commitment to developing a low-carbon economy with the recycling of strategic materials for the energy transition and the circular economy.”
Production is set to begin in early 2026, leveraging existing Stellantis assets and facilities. Investments in the reskilling and upskilling of Stellantis and Orano employees will create sustainable opportunities as they transition to new roles.
It’s also part of a larger recycling effort at Stellantis. The company says that as part of the Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan, the Circular Economy Business Unit is spearheading efforts to significantly boost recycling revenues, aiming for a ten-fold increase. By 2030, the company says it’s determined to surpass €2 billion in total circular economy revenues.
Featured image by Aptera.
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