How Ford and EV manufacturers can take advantage of the new battery pass | Rare Techy
- Car companies are desperate for electric vehicle batteries, but they must be sourced and produced sustainably.
- A “battery passport” that tracks everything from battery mining to recycling can help.
- Experts say the use of akupass could separate the winners from the losers in the automotive industry.
Auto companies around the world are scrambling for battery supplies — and in addition to critical material shortages, they face government regulations that limit how and where they can get what they need to move away from the internal combustion engine.
This challenge can be alleviated with a “battery passport,” a new way to document where all the battery parts come from and where they go. The idea comes from the Global Battery Alliance, a public-private partnership established at the World Economic Forum in 2017.
Experts say that even if the passport is not required for the builders of electric vehicles and their batteries, it may be mandatory for automakers that want to stay in the fast-growing market.
This is because there is pressure to ensure that electric vehicles are manufactured responsibly. First, lithium, nickel, cobalt and other essential metals have long come from places with shaky human rights records and murky carbon footprints.
Second, this summer’s anti-inflation law leaves critical EV tax credits for automakers that use materials sourced from a country or countries with which the U.S. has free trade agreements. In Europe, newer regulations have increased scrutiny of battery sustainability and safety.
“There are all these hoops to jump through,” Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said.
Akupass could facilitate their passage.
Where has your battery been?
The Global Battery Alliance, made up of various public stakeholders and car companies, battery cell manufacturers and mining companies, introduced the Accupass concept in 2020 and plans to launch a proof of concept early next year.
The idea is to track a battery’s journey from raw material extraction to processing to cell production to recycling or second-life use to help battery manufacturers and automakers meet production targets and meet sustainability guidelines.
The passport takes the form of a “digital twin” that brings together three components: the battery’s technical data, such as its manufacturing history or recycled content; tracking used battery materials such as lithium, manganese, graphite and cobalt; and battery sustainability and performance indicators related to its carbon footprint and human rights issues.
“Given in particular some of the recent regulations and laws in the US related to the ethical sourcing and second life of batteries and the tracking of minerals and materials as they enter the waste stream,” said Peter Maithel of the automotive industry. Infor’s principal analyst said, “these acupasses are becoming important.”
Early adopters are brewing
One challenge, however, is getting companies to choose something that might require disclosure of confidential information or technical competitive advantages. But some take the opportunity to put their feet up.
Ford, along with digital transparency company Everledger and recycling companies Cirba Solutions and Li-Cycle, is testing a passport to track the lifecycle of its batteries using artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. Meanwhile, startups like Circulor offer technology that tracks materials, emissions and compliance needs for a given material.
“It will become a regulatory requirement one way or another,” said Inga Petersen, executive director of the association. “Bringing transparency to the supply chain is the first step.”