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Executive Summary
  • In order to meet climate commitments, governments have set goals to decarbonize the transportation sector. Automakers have also embarked on a transition from internal-combustion engines to battery-electric vehicles. However, major auto-exporting regions including North America, the European Union, and Asia rely on battery-supply chains that could be disrupted or manipulated by geopolitical actors.
  • For reasons related to environmental policy, business strategy, and national security, EV batteries are strategic resources. When an electric vehicle reaches its end-of-life, its battery’s strategic value will largely remain intact. For this reason, it is essential that EV batteries be reused, repurposed, and finally recycled in a manner that maximises both economic and strategic value.
  • Given the dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of EVs and battery chemistry, the most effective way to accomplish this will be to facilitate a rational, private-sector market for used EV batteries that integrates with the existing system of auto dismantlers and recyclers. One vital function of this market will be to provide a price signal, but given the specialised nature of EV batteries, the market will also face new challenges including traceability & accountability, dismantling & testing, and logistics & warehousing.
  • Cling Systems is ideally positioned to function as a market maker in this space and in doing so will ensure that end-of-life traceability is achieved, and used batteries retain the maximum commercial and strategic value—helping governments, industry, and environmentalists to achieve both climate and business objectives.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Vehicles that burn fossil fuels are destined to become fossils

The modern era for electric vehicles (EVs) began about 15 years ago, with the introduction of the Tesla Roadster (2008), the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (2009), and the Nissan Leaf—the first plug-in electric vehicle made by a major global automaker (2010) and the first to reach 100,000 units in sales (2013).

Then, the floodgates opened. In 2017, global new EV sales topped 1M for the first time; in 2018, sales exceeded 2M; in 2020, 3M; and between 2020 and 2021 sales more than doubled to about 6.5M vehicles; by 2026 it is estimated there will be almost 27m in sales (Electric Vehicle Outlook 2023, Bloomberg NEF). A separate study from the IEA recently found that over 10m EVs were sold worldwide in 2022 and sales were likely to grow by “another 35% this year to reach 14 million." Government agencies, original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and auto-industry experts all have their own forecasts. Some governments and OEMs have made bold promises to phase out internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles altogether. Most of those promises will prove hard to keep, but it seems likely that over the next 10 to 20 years, sales of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) will overtake hydrocarbon-fueled ICE vehicles and, over the next few decades, the global passenger-vehicle fleet will shift to being predominantly electric.

“EV sales continue to surge in the next few years, rising from 10.5 million in 2022 to almost 27 million in 2026. The EV share of global new passenger vehicle sales jumps from 14% in 2022 to 30% in 2026. Shares in some markets are much higher, with EVs reaching 52% of sales in China and 42% in Europe. Some European car markets move even faster, with the Nordics at 89% and Germany at 59%.” – Electric Vehicle Outlook 2023, Bloomberg NEF

Regulatory pressure, tax incentives, and direct consumer subsidies from governments seeking to reduce carbon pollution by ICE vehicles have all been a factor in the rise of BEVs, but much of the growth in EV registrations is the result of private-sector forces. From the demand side, high world oil prices, improved range, and decreasing price premiums relative to ICE autos have increased customer appeal.

There is an emerging consensus in the auto industry that battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) will achieve price/performance parity with ICE vehicles in as little as five to seven years. By that point, most consumers will have some personal experience of BEVs and demand is expected to increase sharply.From the supply side, the biggest factor may simply be the widespread belief by OEMs that BEVs will overtake ICE vehicles soon.

Chapter 2

The catch: Strategic scarcity and supply-chain exposure

“Chinese companies have acquired around $5.6 billion worth of lithium assets in countries like Chile, Canada,
and Australia over the last decade. It also hosts 60% of the world’s lithium refining capacity for batteries.”
World Economic Forum in collaboration with Visual Capitalist and
BP Statistical Review of World Energy, January 5, 2023

Although no reasonable person doubts the environmental merit of decarbonizing personal transportation, a rapid transition from ICE vehicles to BEVs will create a significant strategic exposure for major auto-manufacturing nations. Neither the EU, Japan, or North America are currently capable of manufacturing enough batteries to power the number of BEVs required to achieve OEMs goals or for governments to hit greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions targets. They may not even be able to source or process the required minerals.

In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey compiled a draft list of “critical minerals”–minerals blandly defined as, “essential to the economic and national security of the United States, from a supply chain that is vulnerable to disruption, and that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have substantial consequences for the U.S. economy or national security.” That list included cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese, which are all components of EV batteries.

Lithium is widely dispersed across the globe, but it is only mined economically and at scale in a few places. Australia produces about 52% of the world’s supply, the vast majority of which is exported to China. Three other countries–Chile (25%), China (13%), and Argentina (6%)–account for almost all the remaining supply (World Economic Forum in collaboration with Visual Capitalist and BP Statistical Review of World Energy). Chile has announced plans to nationalise its own lithium industry.

To its credit, China was the first nation to recognize lithium as a strategic mineral. It developed domestic reserves and invested heavily in foreign mining operations. It has also become the largest lithium processor. China treats other minerals used in batteries–including graphite, cobalt, and manganese–as strategic assets, too. China is the world’s largest automaker in absolute terms as well as the world’s largest producer of BEVs. China’s strategic foresight has made it the only country or economic region with BEV supply chain under its own control. (South Korea is another automaking nation that has nearly achieved this goal.)

The situation is very different in the rest of the world. North America, the EU, India, and Japan collectively produce most of the world’s vehicles. Their governments and private-sector automakers have all set goals related to decarbonizing their transportation sectors and switching production over the BEVs. But those regions and countries only produce about 2% of the world’s lithium. Europe and North America both have untapped lithium reserves but the timelines for developing new mines are long (a decade is often cited as the time from lease to production). And despite the popularity of decarbonization initiatives, new mines may face significant political and regulatory friction, and local opposition.

China is also utterly dominant in the next stages of the EV battery value chain, both when it comes to processing minerals and making cells. At the start of 2023, Benchmark Minerals Intelligence found that almost $300 billion of investment in new lithium ion battery gigafactories has been announced over the last four years, driven largely by China.Other countries are trying to catch up. But China is not resting on its laurels. A recent forecast by Bloomberg NEF suggests that in 2027, China will still control over two-thirds of a global battery-manufacturing capacity that will reach just under 9,000 GWh.

So for the foreseeable future, only China (and perhaps soon, South Korea) will enjoy largely vertically integrated domestic supply chains for BEVs. Most OEMs in the EU, Japan, India, or North America will remain dependent on Chinese and South Korean suppliers for critical materials, if not completed batteries. CATL’s US$3.5B deal with Ford for a Michigan plant demonstrates the inherent complexity of the supply chain and potential workarounds of the Inflation Reduction Act, despite Senator Manchin’s best efforts.

In summary:
The reality of global warming, governments’ policy goals of decarbonization, automakers’ stated business objectives, and consumer demand for BEVs means that lithium, other essential minerals, and assembled cells, batteries, and components are vital strategic resources.

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Chapter 3

Cautionary tales

In the fall of 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon requested that Congress make $2.2B in emergency aid available to Israel, which was then embroiled in the Yom Kippur War. In response, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries ceased exports to the U.S. and embarked on a series of production cuts that caused the world oil price to quadruple in less than a year. Although the embargo was a response to American actions, the price shock was global. And, although the embargo was only in place for about a year and a half, prices remained elevated for much longer.

Much has changed over the intervening 50 years, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put the EU in a very reminiscent situation vis-à-vis natural gas. Russia supplied 40% of Europe’s natural gas in 2021 but only 10% in 2022. The EU showed impressive flexibility both in reducing natural gas use and finding alternative sources of supply but it came at a high cost; the EU spent €400B on natural gas imports in 2022–more than 3x what it spent in 2021.

From the EU perspective, both the 1973 oil price shock and 2022’s natural gas supply challenges could be thought of as collateral damage from regional conflicts involving other countries. But this kind of strategic fragility is not only exposed by war. COVID-19 also caused havoc across modern global supply chains. So there are a multiplicity of reasons to vertically integrate, “onshore”, or “friendshore” EV battery production, including geopolitical security, national or regional economic stability, and automakers’ business objectives.

In summary:
Even if one disregards the risk of a force majeure situation related to the BEV supply chain, from a global perspective, it is impossible to achieve larger climate goals without treating EV batteries as a strategic resource. Batteries in the market provide a path to greater energy security.

Chapter 4

Making an EV battery is very carbon intensive

In the early-adoption period, when nickel-manganese-cobalt was the dominant battery chemistry, the BEV industry faced scrutiny because of the ethical concerns related to cobalt mining in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those metals are also all relatively expensive. However, ethical and cost concerns have the potential to be allayed to some extent, as lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries take over a larger share of the market. But from an environmental perspective, the issue is greenhouse gases (GHG), of which carbon dioxide is the primary threat. As far as GHGs go, LFP chemistry is not significantly less harmful.

“[M]aking a typical EV can create more carbon pollution than making a gasoline car.
This is because of the additional energy required to manufacture an EV’s battery.”
– Electric Vehicle Myths, United States Environmental Protection Agency, May 11, 2023

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the lifetime GHG emissions of an EV with a 300-mile range will be on the order of 150 gms/mile (95 gms/km) of driving. This is less than half the lifetime GHG emissions of a comparable ICE vehicle. However, the GHG emissions associated with the manufacture of an EV account for a far larger percentage of the total. And nearly 20% of the EV’s lifetime GHG emissions are associated with the mining and processing of battery minerals and the manufacture of the battery itself. To put that into perspective, the carbon emissions associated with the manufacture of some EV batteries are roughly the same as the carbon emissions associated with the manufacture of an entire conventional automobile.

Right now, the “carbon cost” of mining and processing battery minerals and manufacturing batteries is mostly an externality. Governments around the world are considering ways to internalise more of those costs, for example by imposing taxes on carbon emissions. But the costs are the same whether they’re internal or external. One way to think of this is that from an environmental perspective, someone (in most cases, all of us) invests a lot of carbon when making an EV battery.

In summary:
When an EV reaches its end of life (EOL), its battery represents a very valuable carbon investment. That investment is literally thrown away if the battery is not properly utilised, or in extreme cases, ends up as landfill.

Seen in isolation, the decarbonization of transportation is a great step, but to achieve climate goals, BEVs will have to recharge from more sustainable power grids, too. Reducing the GHG associated with electrical generation will be accomplished by different means in different places, but promising alternative power sources like wind and solar energy are intermittent. At some point, most sustainable grids will need some means of energy storage. Lithium batteries are already being used for this purpose and we – along with many others – expect this to become another major use of lithium.

Building a sustainable grid that generates electricity from mostly renewable energy is, in itself, a very carbon-intensive process. All the more reason to retain as much of the original carbon investment in lithium batteries.

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Chapter 5

A Hierarchy of Second Lives: Reusing > Repurposing > Recycling

If we create a hierarchy of ways to extract the maximum value from an EOL EV battery, the greatest value – both in the financial sense and in the environmental sense – is simply reusing the used battery in another vehicle.

At the moment, a common reuse scenario involves a hobbyist or specialist car maker buying a li-ion battery: either one that has previously been used in an EV or from off-spec cells and modules in the production process. The vehicle is then converted from ICE to electric power.

However as more and more BEVs reach their end of life, questions will be asked on the most appropriate usage of the batteries that have untapped energy potential, in much the same way that still-usable and/or rebuildable parts of ICE vehicles are resold for use in auto repair and refurbishing.

Recycled Power to Unique Application

Reuse does not necessarily mean a one-for-one swap into a similar vehicle. Going forward, we may find that batteries that have degraded too far for reuse in a personal automobile can be used in specialist vehicles that are less demanding as regards energy density, such as short-haul shuttles or industrial forklifts.The next highest-value second life category–perhaps for batteries that have degraded to the point where they’re unacceptable for uses with specific energy-density requirements – involves repurposing batteries in stationary applications. EV batteries can have second lives in applications like grid stabilisation, emergency power supplies for buildings, or behind-the-meter energy storage for buildings with solar collectors.Reusing or repurposing batteries is inherently superior to simply recycling them for several reasons:

  • Such uses directly substitute second-life batteries for new ones.
  • They not only capture 100% of strategic battery materials, they also capture all of the carbon investment associated with battery manufacture.
  • These highest-value second lives ensure that newly made (and often foreign-made) batteries will be reserved for uses that place the highest demands on energy density.
  • Putting batteries to another use before recycling them will allow time for recycling technology–most of which has still only been proven at small scale–to be perfected.

Although recycling may be the least-desirable second life for EV batteries, it is still an essential part of any strategy for a sustainable transportation future. Strategic materials that are recaptured by recycling are materials that don’t have to be mined or processed.

At the moment, most EV battery recycling involves “process waste”– batteries that have never reached consumers (and in many cases, haven’t even reached an auto manufacturer.) The implication is that the location of such batteries is known. However, sales of BEVs are expected to rise to 35% of the total by 2030. By the mid-2030s, the largest source of second-life batteries will be electric vehicles reaching their end of life. That is to say vehicles that may no longer be owned by the initial purchaser or even remain in the initial country of sale; they will be dispersed across the ecosystem of dismantlers.

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Chapter 6

In much of the world, the automobile-dismantling industry is a recycling success story

Approximately 90% of all automobiles that reach their end of life in the developed world are dismantled in a fragmented-but-efficient ecosystem of automobile recyclers, used-parts dealers, rebuilders, and scrap metal merchants.

Automobiles entering this system are drained of fluids, many of which are themselves recycled or at least used in recyclers’ own vehicles and equipment. Still-useful parts from doors to alternators are removed, catalogued, and sold on; sometimes, major components like cylinder blocks and heads are rebuilt prior to resale. Steel and alloy components that can’t be economically resold as-is are eventually smelted. In this way, about 80% of a typical automobile by weight is reused and/or recycled.

Steve Fletcher, Managing Director, Automotive Recyclers of Canada

When the modern automobile recycling industry developed, extracting value from auto scrap was conceived as a strictly commercial venture. But it also proves to be remarkably good at preserving the carbon investment that each automobile represents, and reducing the need for additional mining and refining. Producing a ton of steel from recycled scrap avoids the burning of 1,400 pounds of coal. Some dismantlers are actually carbon negative.

By some estimates, 99% of all the lead in conventional lead-acid car batteries is recovered by this industry. In the future, as BEVs reach EOL, their lithium batteries will represent a far greater prize. The existing auto-dismantling ecosystem has proven its ability to evolve as the auto industry evolves. For example, since the 2000s, more and more components have been made of plastic. Many of those materials are now also recycled, reducing the demand for petroleum feedstocks. Even windshields–which, being laminated, represent a technical challenge–are increasingly recycled. There is every reason to think that as more and more EVs reach their end of life, this flexible and efficient ecosystem will collect EV batteries in a manner consistent with capturing the maximum retained value.

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Chapter 7

The best way to prepare for uncertainty is to build in adaptability

After a century or more of dependence on internal-combustion engines, the reality of climate change has made decarbonizing the transportation sector a suddenly urgent priority.

Over the long term, it’s likely that many changes will be made in the interests of sustainable transportation. Improved fuel-cell solutions may power heavy trucks and trains; hydrogen or e-fuels may allow ICE vehicles to remain in circulation; cultures currently dependent on personal vehicles may embrace public transportation or ride sharing at scale; new patterns of urbanisation may limit the need for transportation in the first place. Those are all great ideas, but they are decades away from market readiness. BEVs are here now and rising in popularity. We don’t have the luxury of continuing to burn fossil fuels while we develop additional alternatives. To avoid a climate disaster, we must speed the transition from ICE vehicles to EVs.

That urgency is the single most important factor driving the exponential growth of BEVs. Automakers are investing billions in order to speed their transition from ICE vehicles to EVs; having a domestic lithium-battery manufacturing capability is a public-sector policy goal and a private-sector business objective. Companies and governments are aligned to an unusual degree.

A significant share of vehicles made in the 2020s will be BEVs; likely, most of the vehicles made in the 2030s will be zero-emission. This means that by the mid-2030s, a significant and growing number of BEVs will begin reaching their end-of-life.

As we’ve explained, the batteries in those vehicles will represent a valuable strategic resource. Optimising those batteries’ second lives will play an important role in the overall sustainability of the transportation sector (and the grid that powers it). Of that, we’re certain.

To recap, we expect that sales of BEVs will continue to increase and pass those of ICE vehicles over the next decade; so does virtually every automaker. Recent about-turns by the likes of Toyota show the direction of travel. The inevitable result of millions of BEVs taking to the road in the 2020s will mean that beginning in the 2030s, millions of BEVs will reach their end of life and be dismantled. Those EV batteries will be a strategic resource and retain significant commercial value. (They’ll also represent a substantial environmental investment, in the form of damage done by mining and the carbon and other pollution released in processing and manufacturing of batteries.)

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Chapter 8

We are confident in the foregoing assumptions, but there are still a great number of “unknowns”

  • Battery swapping: Battery swapping was once thought to be an obvious solution for EVs and battery swapping systems are in place for scooters in some markets. If battery swapping systems become dominant in some use cases or markets, they’ll increase the initial demand for batteries (as more than one battery is needed per vehicle) but change the ownership paradigm.
  • Changing incentives: Following China’s recent example, governments could cut subsidies, tax incentives, or other measures to encourage automakers to invest in BEV production and encourage consumers to purchase BEVs.
  • Charging infrastructure: It could prove to be more costly and/or take longer to build out charging infrastructure, limiting consumer demand. Even if it is possible to install a sufficient base of charging stations, the electrical grid may not be capable of handling EV charging demand in every location.
  • Chemistry: Battery chemistry will continue to evolve. We’re already seeing some OEMs prioritising LFP batteries and experimenting with sodium-ion.
  • Cost internalisation: Mines, processors, and battery manufacturers could be forced to internalise costs that are currently external, such as water use, carbon emissions, and other forms of pollution or environmental degradation. Such measures might also have the effect of increasing the value of second-life batteries.
  • Demand destruction: Other technologies, including sodium batteries, pumped storage, flow batteries, thermal storage, and flywheel energy storage could reduce demand for lithium batteries in energy storage systems.
  • EV first-life duration: The average age of EVs reaching their end-of-life may be different than it is for ICE vehicles. That would influence the timeline for the emergence of a mature market for second-life batteries.
  • Geopolitical instability - Force majeure situations: A significant effort is being made by many countries and companies to future-proof their BEV supply chains by “friend-shoring”, etc. But those efforts will all take time. In the interim, geopolitical conflict, pandemic, or environmental or climate disasters could leave many automakers unable to achieve their BEV production targets.
  • Industry consolidation - Auto or battery manufacturers consolidating in a bid for survival, leading to  discontinued projects or assets in need of trading.
  • Manufacturing cost curve: Battery manufacturing costs could fall as production volumes increase and new manufacturing facilities come onstream, or rise if demand from automakers outstrips manufacturing capacity.
  • OEM priorities: Auto manufacturers could decide that the resale of used or out-of-spec batteries for purposes like grid stabilisation is too far from their core competencies of making and selling vehicles.
  • Permitting: Approvals for new mines could face public resistance, slowing the rate of expected rate of increase in lithium production.
  • Public transportation: Increased use of public transportation, ride sharing, or right-sizing transportation could reduce demand for batteries.
  • Raw material pricing: Prices could increase as OEMs ramp up EV production, or fall as additional mines come onstream.
  • Regulatory environment: Changes to the regulatory environment will enable greater EV sales and the rate at which batteries enter their second lives. The EU has already proposed a requirement for OEMs to keep an updated “battery passport” for each BEV. Other extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations may also be passed. Various regulatory frameworks can also heavily influence the geopolitical balances mentioned above.
  • Remote working: Changing patterns of work or urbanisation could reduce the demand for personal vehicles.
  • Structural battery pack: Batteries could be further integrated into vehicle chassis, making removal of batteries at EOL more difficult and costly.
  • Vertical integration: Auto manufacturers may seek to vertically integrate the entire EV battery life cycle. Having OEMs control the full battery life cycle also raises issues related to the property rights of car owners.

We’re the first to admit that besides the “known unknowns” listed above, there are certainly “unknown unknowns”, too. Events will take us unawares, as they always do. So from today’s vantage point, it is impossible to model the exact mechanisms by which used EV batteries will enter their second lives.

The Maze of mapping uncertainty.

In summary:
Only a market-driven solution can maximise the value of EOL batteries and respond to unpredictable effects on supply and demand

The unpredictable period we are about to enter leaves us convinced that only a market-based solution can efficiently allocate used batteries as a strategic resource. And a market-based price signal is the only efficient way to maximise their commercial value—which is essential if we’re to achieve decarbonization goals.

Broadly speaking, there are two fundamental means of achieving policy goals: command-and-control systems, in which actors (usually governments or government agencies) dictate rules and enforce them, or market-based solutions, in which goals are, at least to some degree, achieved as a by-product of individual actors optimising their profit. The growth of the BEV market to date has certainly been accelerated by government actions, ranging from subsidies and tax breaks for EV buyers in the U.S. and EU to centrally planned actions by China that have resulted in that country’s current dominance in battery manufacturing.

Because of the many uncertainties outlined above, we are sure that only a market-based solution will allow us to maximise the value of used EV batteries in order to best achieve the larger goal of circular flows and sustainable transportation.

First, as we’ve already described, there is a significant entropy in the path a vehicle takes from the end of an OEM's assembly line to its end of life. Keeping battery passports up to date or fulfilling other obligations under the general heading of EPR may be impossible when vehicles reach their EOL outside the original jurisdiction.

Furthermore, any system to capture residual value in used batteries will necessarily be highly fragmented, because while new vehicles are sold by a finite number of dealers known to each OEM, vehicles reaching EOL have been widely dispersed and will likely be dismantled relatively near the place they last were operated.

Command-and-control systems won’t be effective in those situations; the profit motive will be.

It is certainly true that in principle, just preserving strategic minerals is not as valuable as intelligently reusing or repurposing batteries, but it is also true that top-down command-and-control measures will inevitably ignore the fact that the optimal second life for a used battery will often depend on where its first life happens to end and the conditions under which it reached its EOL. Setting uniform standards is costly and ineffective in situations where rule enforcement, technology, skilled labour, logistical support, etc., is unavailable.

“Recycling could represent a major new source of raw materials. Globally, there was over 600,000 metric tons of recyclable lithium-ion batteries and related manufacturing scrap in 2021. That number is expected to top 1.6 million metric tons by 2030...
And it could really take off after that, as the first generation of electric cars heads for the junkyards.”
– How old batteries will help power tomorrow’s EVs, Casey Crownhart, MIT Technology Review, January 17, 2023

An optimised market is the most efficient means of setting prices and maximising yield. That is why we are convinced that society should treat used batteries as private goods — just as we currently treat all the other parts of autos at their EOL. Further, there is a need for an international market for used EV batteries that will maximise the price of used batteries and, in doing so, encourage all actors in that market to optimise the allocation of used batteries according to a principle of value such that reuse>repurpose>recycle.

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Chapter 9

Creating a specialised market
for a special product

Although the process of dismantling ICE vehicles and either reusing, rebuilding, or recycling auto components is efficient, the existing system will need to be buttressed if it is to effectively absorb millions of EV batteries in the coming decades.

Considering the entropy in the used-car market and the fragmented nature of the auto dismantling industry, an efficient global marketplace that connects sellers to buyers in an expert system that minimises friction will be required to maximise the value of used EV batteries, ensure the efficient use of a strategic resource, help the world to decarbonize transportation, and achieve essential climate goals.

Chapter 10

An optimal market for used EV batteries will have to do much more than simply arbitrage batteries as a commodity.

Most of the materials that are currently recycled at scale–whether glass or paper from packaging, or steel and aluminium from scrapped automobiles–are stable, easily transported, and fungible. That is not the case for used EV batteries. There’s a reason why, when you check a suitcase before boarding a plane, the clerk asks if it contains lithium batteries; if damaged, they can catch fire, burn with intense heat, and be hard to extinguish. Because of that risk, used EV batteries need specialised crates, transport, and warehousing. They need ADR receipts, EPR forms, invoices, and EUR1 certificates to name just a few specifics.

When an ICE automobile reaches its EOL, an experienced worker can visually inspect parts and determine whether they are good enough to resell or rebuild. In order to determine the best use of used EV batteries, they will need to be subjected to fairly sophisticated diagnostic tests.

And unlike most ICE automobiles, EV batteries may be subject to tracking or reporting requirements.

For the time being, most of the EV batteries, components, and materials reaching the few existing recyclers are “pre-consumer” waste. Batteries and materials come from automakers or battery manufacturers that have determined batteries are out of specification or surplus for some other reason.

Battery manufacturers and automakers are experts at handling lithium batteries. However, in the future, most EV batteries entering their second life will come from dismantlers, aggregators, or fleet operators who will have varying degrees of experience, technical skills, and specialised equipment.

If the market is to operate efficiently, the virtual/digital marketplace will need to do much more than set prices. The market will also need to cluster around a set of full-service solutions that is not currently a part of the existing auto dismantling and recycling ecosystem, including:

  • Inventory and Data Management
  • Logistics and Quality Assurance
  • Trading
  • Traceability and Accountability

In Summary:
Cling Systems is already providing the specialised services needed to ensure that used li-ion batteries have optimal second lives and are appropriately traced.

“Early-stage investors are instead looking for new investment opportunities in the value chain, either upstream (such as batteries or critical minerals) or downstream (such as charging or recycling).” – Global EV Outlook 2023: Catching up with climate ambitions, International Energy Agency, April 2023

In the three years since its founding, Cling has built the infrastructure necessary to enable sustainable, resilient circular battery value chains. It is the market-based solution needed to decarbonize the transportation sector and maximise the strategic value of used li-ion batteries.

Cling Systems was founded by William Bergh in May, 2020. It was initially a developer of packaging engineered to safely transport used EV batteries. The company quickly evolved into a digital trading platform capable of matching battery buyers to sellers in what is still a nascent market. Perhaps more importantly, Cling has focused on developing a full suite of in-house capabilities and a network of vetted partners to ensure that used batteries reach their full potential at end of life, either for second life or recycling.

Cling’s end-to-end capabilities mean that customers are able to benefit from one point of contact for proper circularity, with maximised value extraction.

In Summary:
The way these capabilities cluster together enables Cling Systems to provide “Battery Circularity as a Service” (BCaaS) to sellers and buyers. Potential clients range from auto and battery manufacturers looking to solve end-of-life management, through to dismantlers seeking a long term and viable partner able to access the demand side’s untapped potential.

If one looks forward to a future in which EV batteries have optimal second lives, everyone will benefit. Automobile and battery manufacturers won’t want the additional burden of accounting for their products at EOL, long after they’ve sold a product and possibly lost track of it.

Governments and regulators want to achieve their climate goals but won’t need another bookkeeping headache (especially one that will, again, often entail accounting for products that have left their jurisdictions).

Environmentalists will obviously agree with the notion of reusing, repurposing, and recycling EV batteries. Less obviously, they will find themselves in the unfamiliar position of agreeing with companies that mine and process battery materials–because the latter companies will benefit from being able to argue that the environmental costs of extracting and processing critical minerals are not simply wasted at the end of a battery’s first life.

Car owners will benefit if vehicles have a larger retained value at EOL. (This benefit will also be progressive; it will benefit less-wealthy drivers because the added value primarily accrues to the final owner, not the initial buyer.)

And of course, dismantlers will have the greatest incentive to extract value from electric vehicles as they begin to reach EOL in the coming decade. Indeed every actor in this complex developing market will benefit from the presence of a free-market player that maximises the value of used EV batteries and minimises friction in a marketplace.

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For more information please contact Eden Yates or
For any companies interested in selling or buying end of life li-ion batteries, please register at

Selected insights
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Behind the Scenes: The Intricate Logistics of Battery Circularity
The blog addresses the complexities of handling end-of-life lithium-ion batteries, noting safety regulations and paperwork hurdles. It highlights efforts by transportation providers to streamline processes and stresses the importance of a digital infrastructure for circular battery value chains, with Cling Systems contributing.
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