Where Do Electric Car Batteries Come From?

March 2, 2021

How Are Electric Vehicle Batteries Really Made?

As we all know, fossil fuels are running out and tailpipe emissions are contributing to pollution in our atmosphere. That’s why so many consumers are turning to electric cars that are powered by lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are lighter and last a lot longer than previous battery technology. But where do electric car batteries come from?

How Electric Vehicle Batteries Are Made

Lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles are made from certain elements including carbon or graphite, a metal oxide, and lithium salt. These elements make up positive and negative electrodes, and when combined with electrolyte, produce an electric current that makes the battery work to power your vehicle. It is also the same sort of battery that you will find in everyday technologies such as mobile phones and laptops, just on a much bigger scale.

The materials for making EV batteries don’t require strip mining or destroying mountain tops like many other mineral resources do. In fact, lithium is most often found in underground ponds. Liquid is pumped out of these ponds and allowed to dry in the sun. Much of the lithium used for electric car batteries comes from South America, specifically in the Andes Mountains that run through Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. There are also deposits in China and the U.S. which are mined from rock.

The lithium material is made into lithium carbonate and then processed at a battery plant. The manufacturing plant assembles the batteries, and the batteries are then placed in an electric vehicle, which has zero emissions. Electric cars don't even need tailpipes, since there's nothing but electricity coming out of the batteries.

Recycling Electric Vehicle Batteries

The batteries currently in use in electric vehicles last for over 10 years. However, if you overcharge or drain the battery too much, or you live in a warmer climate, this could contribute to battery degradation and a shorter lifespan. Luckily, they can then be taken apart, recycled and reused again. Over 80 percent of the components used to make these batteries are recyclable. Companies such as Tesla, take apart old lithium-ion batteries used in its cars and recycles the cooling fluid, wires and electronics in its batteries. Soon, thanks to the growth of the electric car industry, lithium-ion battery recycling facilities will be sprouting up to give the batteries new life.

In 2016, Panasonic Corporation partnered with Tesla to mass produce advanced lithium batteries for EVs. Panasonic recently announced a joint venture with Toyota as the demand for electric cars continues to rise. The International Energy Agency predicts that there will be 125 million EVs in use worldwide by 2030 and potentially double that number if governments step up the pace of legislative change.

The Future of Electric Cars

Last year, 2.1 million new electric vehicles were sold worldwide. China is the world’s largest electric car market, accounting for half of those sales. The U.S. came a distant second with 361,000 new electric cars purchased, almost half of which were the Tesla 3 model. In terms of market share, Norway leads the way with 49% of new cars sold being either hybrid or electric.

The pressure to go green is increasing as bans on the sale of new fossil-fuel cars loom in Europe. Germany will stop the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, Scotland from 2032, and France and the United Kingdom from 2040.

Learn more by reading our Definitive Guide on EV Batteries