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Old Toyota Prius Batteries May Live Again in New Electric Cars

By the end of the decade, the company aims to recycle enough batteries to supply a tenth of the world's EVs.

Redwood Materials, the ambitious U.S.-based battery recycler, found a new believer this week: Toyota. With one of Tesla’s founders at the helm, Redwood aims to be able to remanufacture enough batteries each year to supply several million electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

Redwood—founded by Tesla’s original Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel—announced Tuesday that it’s Toyota Motor North America’s new partner for the “end-of-life” stage of batteries for the original Prius. Starting with the collection of expired Prius battery packs for testing and recycling, the partnership will expand to encompass “battery health screening,” data management, battery manufacturing, and battery material supply in North America.

2023 Toyota BZ4X AWD | Toyota

Redwood’s stated goal is to reduce the economic and environmental costs of EVs by establishing a “closed-loop supply chain” with a tremendous capacity for battery recycling. Already taking in over six gigawatt-hours of batteries for recycling each year, Redwood aims to increase recycling capacity to 100 GWh by 2025—enough to produce batteries for almost 1.4 million Toyota BZ4X crossovers annually. By 2030, Redwood expects to handle 500 GWh, enough for nearly seven million BZ4Xs. At that capacity, Redwood would be able to supply more than 10 percent of the anticipated 4.9 terawatt-hours of EV batteries that Rystad Energy forecasts will be demanded in 2030.

Crucial to Redwood’s plans will be keeping supply chains short by locating recycling facilities near the battery factories of its carmaker partners. For Toyota, that means one near its newly announced battery factory in North Carolina. That also applies to Redwood’s other sources for expired batteries, such as Ford, which plans plants in Kentucky and Tennessee, and Volvo, which will build one in North Carolina.

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