Energy transition and the electrification of cars must go hand in hand with a "circular economy". The latter necessarily involves reducing the use of raw materials and recycling batteries efficiently.

Many manufacturers have adopted their own formula for achieving this, and among the most advanced is undoubtedly Renault. According to Automotive News Europe, the French brand intends to be the first European carmaker to recycle batteries on an industrial scale.

The future is neutral

Renault's idea could have many positive effects, and not just from an environmental point of view. The brand wants to work with various specialist companies to extract and recycle the lithium and other metals found in the batteries of electric vehicles, creating a circular economy that could bring in billions of euros and reduce dependence on China.

According to Jean-Philippe Bahuaud, managing director of the project "The Future Is Neutral (TFIN)" launched in 2022, "no one in Europe can currently claim to recycle used batteries in a closed cycle to extract nickel, cobalt and lithium to produce new batteries".

Renault 5 E-Tech elettrica

Renault 5 E-Tech 

Of course, the use of recycled metals could also help to reduce the price of electric cars, since metals account for 70% of the cost of a battery and batteries account for 40% of the cost of an electric vehicle.

That's why Renault is betting big on the TFIN project, with a target of €2.3 billion and an operating margin of over 10% by the end of the decade.

The Ampere laboratory

The batteries of the future will not only be the fruit of a great deal of attention paid to recycling, but also of technologies patented by Renault. Ampere, the brand's electrification division, has announced the opening of a battery testing laboratory in Labry, a small town on the border of Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium. The press release from reads:

"The laboratory will be strategic in defining the best compromise between performance, cost, durability and safety for future batteries and anticipating technological advances in the field of cells".

More than 120 cell development and analysis instruments will be installed on two levels in the 3,000 square metre building. This will include machines for producing prototype cells in a 600 square metre clean room.

Labry's facilities will also be used for electrophysical-chemical characterisation, in which the chemical behaviour of the cell will be studied to determine more precisely its durability and the effects of frequent rapid charging.

Gallery: Renault 5 E-Tech Electric 2024 in action