Toyota Europe Aiming For 100 Percent Hybrid Battery Recycling

Toyota’s hybrid vehicle battery life tends to be a lengthy one and the automaker is stepping up its efforts to recycle them.

The hybrid batteries used in Toyota and Lexus models can last longer the vehicles themselves, so often they are only recovered when the cars reach the end of their useful life, or if they have been involved in an accident.

Toyota already has a battery collection rate of more than 90 percent, but said it is now widening its strategy and targeting a 100 percent recuperation result.

The company stated in Europe, Toyota and Lexus dealers receive a new hybrid battery in exchange for an old one, leading to an average 91 percent collection rate.

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Toyota Motor Europe (TME) has set itself the challenge to increase this figure to 100 percent, through its own network and, additionally, through any authorized end-of-life vehicle treatment operators.

To support this, the company has announced an extension of its current battery recycling agreements until March 31, 2018.

Since July 2011, the France-based Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux (SNAM) has been recycling nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) batteries, as used in the Prius, Auris Hybrid, Yaris Hybrid and all Lexus hybrid models.

Additionally, since August 2012, Umicore NV, based in Belgium, has handled lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which are used in the Prius+ and Prius Plug-in models.

“When our customers buy a hybrid, they already know that they are in for outstanding fuel efficiency, a stress-free driving experience and a reliable car,” said Steve Hope, Toyota Motor Europe General Manager Environment Affairs. “This is yet another reason for a hybrid purchase, as we can ensure their car excels in its environmental performance throughout its lifecycle.”

Used hybrid batteries are still mainly destined for recycling, added Toyota, but TME has started to research options for the remanufacture of NiMh batteries, potentially giving them a second life as a vehicle or a stationary energy source.

Stationary batteries can potentially store surplus renewable energy, for example as an emergency back-up, or cheaper, or help manage fuel costs by storing cheaper, off-peak electricity.