Ford Motor Co. is partnering with and investing $50 million into a battery recycling startup led by a Tesla co-founder as the Dearborn automaker works to shore up the battery supply chain for a forthcoming wave of electric vehicles.
Ford and Redwood Materials announced the deal Wednesday and said the two companies will work together “to integrate battery recycling into Ford’s domestic battery strategy.”
Redwood, which was started by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel and is based in Nevada, claims that its recycling technology can recover, on average, more than 95% of materials such as nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper that are found in EV batteries. Those materials then can be reused. Redwood announced last week that it will produce battery materials, supplying anode copper foil and cathode active materials to battery makers.
In a news release, Ford cast the deal as a way to drive down costs and shore up its domestic supply chain for the parts needed for electric vehicles. Ford has begun launching its initial portfolio of battery-electric vehicles, and plans to invest $30 billion in electrification through 2025. The Redwood deal is part of that investment.
“Ford is making electric vehicles more accessible and affordable through products like the all-electric F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit, and much more to come,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “Our partnership with Redwood Materials will be critical to our plan to build electric vehicles at scale in America, at the lowest possible cost and with a zero-waste approach.”
Earlier this year, Ford announced plans to form a joint venture with battery maker SK Innovation to manufacture batteries at multiple plants in North America beginning mid-decade. Ford and SK are in the process of forming the JV, which Ford said Wednesday remains subject to definitive agreements and regulatory approvals.
“We are designing our battery supply chain to create a fully closed-loop lifecycle to drive down the cost of electric vehicles via a reliable U.S. materials supply chain,” Lisa Drake, Ford’s North America chief operating officer, said in a statement. “This approach will help ensure valuable materials in end-of-life products re-enter the supply chain and do not wind up in landfills, reducing our reliance on the existing commodities supply chain that will be quickly overwhelmed by industry demand.”
In the longer term, Ford said, it plans to work with Redwood to collect and disassemble end-of-life batteries from Ford’s EVs for recycling and remanufacturing.
“Increasing our nation’s production of batteries and their materials through domestic recycling can serve as a key enabler to improve the environmental footprint of U.S. manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, decrease cost and, in turn, drive up domestic adoption of electric vehicles,” Straubel said in a statement. “Redwood and Ford share an understanding that to truly make electric vehicles sustainable and affordable, we need to localize the existing complex and expensive supply chain network, create pathways for end-of-life vehicles, ramp lithium-ion recycling and increase battery production, all here in America.”