Toyota partners with Redwood Materials for critical battery materials

Toyota has announced a partnership with Redwood Materials to secure critical battery materials for its future North American EV factory. The automaker’s $13.9 billion factory in North Carolina, set to begin production in 2025, will receive cathode material and anode copper foil from Redwood Materials. This collaboration not only provides value for Redwood, but it also gives Toyota a U.S. source for these essential components, which are currently manufactured overseas. The deal is reminiscent of Toyota’s agreement with Panasonic, which is worth several billion dollars.

Expanding the Partnership

This recent collaboration between Redwood Materials and Toyota is an expansion of their partnership, which was initially announced in June 2022. Under the initial agreement, Redwood Materials agreed to refurbish or recycle batteries from Toyota’s hybrid and electrified vehicles. For batteries that cannot be refurbished, Redwood extracts valuable materials such as copper, lithium, cobalt, and nickel. These materials are then remanufactured into components that can be returned to Toyota for cell manufacturing.

The effort to recycle and remanufacture batteries aligns with Toyota’s battery lifecycle ecosystem, which aims to include the recycling, remanufacturing, and repurposing of the nearly five million operating units, according to the automaker.

Enhancing Value for Redwood Materials

This latest deal further increases the value of Redwood Materials, a lithium-ion battery recycling and materials startup founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel. Under a long-term agreement, Redwood will supply Toyota with cathode active material and copper foil produced at its U.S. facilities. The cathode materials provided to Toyota’s North Carolina factory will incorporate a minimum of 20% recycled nickel, 20% recycled lithium, 50% recycled cobalt, and 100% recycled copper in the anode copper foil.

The Importance of Battery Building Blocks

Lithium-ion batteries consist of three critical building blocks: two electrodes (an anode and a cathode) and an electrolyte in the middle. Cathode foils, which account for over half the cost of a battery cell, contain lithium, nickel, and cobalt. By recycling and processing batteries, Redwood Materials is able to capture and reuse all of these valuable materials.

Expanding Operations

Redwood Materials is currently expanding its headquarters in Carson City, Nevada. Additionally, the company plans to break ground on a second battery materials campus in South Carolina later this year. These campuses will focus on recycling, refining, and manufacturing battery materials, with a projected production volume of 100 gigawatt-hours per year, enough for one million electric vehicles by 2025.

Overall, Toyota’s partnership with Redwood Materials is a significant step towards establishing a domestic supply chain for critical battery materials. By collaborating with Redwood, Toyota aims to secure the necessary components for its future EV production, while also contributing to the recycling and remanufacturing efforts within the battery industry.

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