20 Firms Link Up to Build Used Battery Market Ahead of EV Boom

20 companies, including major domestic manufacturers, have begun cooperating on reuse of batteries from electric vehicles and other equipment, it has been learned.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The project will focus on forming a market to distribute used batteries at suitable prices by assessing battery deterioration, and developing rules to this end. Battery recycling is expected to increase along with the rise in EVs.

The group will also review related regulations with the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.

The companies came together in late September as a working group under the Battery Association for Supply Chain, a general incorporated association set up by automakers and battery manufactures, among others.

The working group will comprise companies from a wide range of businesses, including Toshiba Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Denso Corp., MUFG Bank and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., as well as Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, Inc., which is a joint venture by Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Holdings Corp.

The group will study forming a market to distribute used batteries at suitable prices. It will also discuss a cooperative framework to reuse rare metals such as nickel and cobalt extracted from discarded batteries.

Research by the group will explore how to accurately assess battery deterioration, which develops gradually. A joint study will examine building a new service where used batteries can be swapped with charged batteries.

As battery-related services become more widespread, breakdowns and malfunctions are expected to increase. The group will work to devise insurance and maintenance schemes to handle such issues.

For now, the group will study the reuse of batteries from EVs, with plans to later include batteries from ships and robots.

With the global push to decarbonize, demand for batteries is booming. The global battery market totaled about ¥5 trillion in 2019, and the market is expected to grow to ¥40 trillion in 2030 and ¥100 trillion in 2050.

Japan, poor in natural resources, depends on other countries for major raw materials for battery production, including lithium and graphite. To ensure its economic security, Japan will have to lessen its dependency on overseas sources.

Degraded EV batteries can still be used at homes and factories, and recycling them should allow for more effective use of resources. With companies from a wide range of industries, the group aims to make proposals on regulations that hinder the development of battery-related services, and on how the government can provide support.