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Ford partners with Redwood Materials on EV battery recycling, local manufacturing

Redwood Materials claims it can recycle 95% of the materials in a lithium-ion battery cell, and that's a big deal.

Redwood Materials seeks to bring battery-cell production from recycled materials to the forefront.

One of the biggest challenges that the electric car industry faces is what to do with battery packs that are no longer suitable for use in vehicles. Some companies have turned them into megabatteries to back up power grids; some are just letting them sit around until a suitable solution comes along. Ford, according to an announcement made on Wednesday, is doing something different.

That something different involves partnering with a company called Redwood Materials to go all-in on battery pack recycling as a means of localizing production and reducing both costs and waste. Frankly, it's pretty awesome.

Redwood Materials claims that its recycling technologies can reclaim upward of 95% of the nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper from a battery cell for reuse and remanufacturing. As the internet likes to say, "Big, if true."

Aside from the environmental bonus of not having to mine for as much new material, the upside is a massive reduction in cost for companies like Ford, which it hopes to pass on to the people who buy its cars. The cost of batteries made from recycled materials would likely be much less likely to be affected by geopolitical issues and environmental concerns than those made from new material.

"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," said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. "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."

To prove that it's serious, Ford is investing a whopping $50 million in its partnership with Redwood Materials, which should dovetail nicely with all the BlueOvalSK production facilities that it's been building in concert with SK Innovations over the past few years and with Ford's $30 billion overall investment in electrification.

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