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November 26, 2019

Toyota Motor Philippines Has a Plan for All Those Hybrid Batteries

While most people focused on the shiny new hybrid electric vehicles on display at Toyota’s first-ever HEV Drive Expo, and how they can help reduce emissions and dependency on fossil fuels, there’s one thing that escaped most people, including Ms. Earth Philippines who was the guest of honor: what’s going to happen to all these batteries when it’s time to scrap these cars?

Granted Toyotas are built to last a lifetime, the fact of the matter is these traction batteries are wear-and-tear items. Though Toyota Motor Philippines is generous enough to offer an extended 5-year / 200,000-kilometer warranty, it’s still going to break down one day. So, what’s Toyota going to do then?

Well, tucked behind the glitzy displays is the answer: an End-of-Life plan for all those nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.

Realizing that the increased demand for electric vehicles (hybrid or otherwise), possible shortage of raw materials, and the increase in hazardous waste, Toyota is going to take a three-prong approach which they officially call, “3R” or Rebuilt, Reuse, Recycle.

The first, Rebuilt, will soon have Toyota offering re-manufactured battery assemblies which will then be sold to dealers, and eventually, to customers. These assemblies will be significantly cheaper (just a third of the cost) than opting for brand-new ones, and should help keep battery electric vehicles running for a long time.

The second, Reuse, will have Toyota re-manufacturing the battery assemblies for use in other industries. These moderately deteriorated batteries, though not so useful as a power source for vehicles, are still useful as energy storage solutions for things like solar or wind farms.

Finally, with Recycle, Toyota will turnover the used battery assemblies where precious metals such as nickel and cobalt can then be reused in the manufacture of new vehicles. Of note: Toyota says NiMH batteries are more easily recyclable than its lithium-ion counterpart. The Philippines, like Thailand, turns over any used traction batteries to TTK Logistics (Thailand) Co., which can recycle up to 10,000 batteries a year. The precious metals extracted are then used by Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Thailand to produce new vehicles.

As Toyota moves to electrify their vehicles in Southeast Asia (the carmaker has pledged to electrify its entire line-up in Thailand in 2025), it’s great news that the carmaker is now putting plans in place to also consider the disposal and recycling of these potentially hazardous materials.

Here’s hoping that other carmakers who also plan to introduce their own electrified vehicles do the same.

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