30 Mar 2022

Toyota NZ studies sustainable options for old electric, hybrid car batteries

8:59 am on 30 March 2022

Toyota New Zealand says it is making some big changes to how it manages the end of life for hybrid and electrical vehicles, as it aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Check and maintenance the battery in car with yourself. Service and maintenance car or vehicle.

Toyota is looking at ways to repurpose the batteries of electric and hybrid vehicles. Photo: 123RF

"One in every four cars on the roads in New Zealand is a Toyota," Toyota New Zealand chief executive Neeraj Lala said, adding that its leadership position in the market comes with responsibility and some urgency.

"We want to move quickly."

Lala said many of the Prius hybrid models had been on the road for nearly 15 years and were at the point of needing a battery refresh or replacement.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that if they have a nickel metal hydride or lithium ion battery in those cars that we can sustainably dispose of those or find a suitable repurpose programme for those batteries, which is a big focus of this whole project that we're looking at," Lala said.

He added that the company was working on a feasibility plan, which it expected to action from the middle of this year.

"There's two parts to this. One is the sustainable recycling of the battery. And then the second piece of this is a second life or a repurpose for an alternative use."

He said an alternative use could be the storage of power, which was an interest for many other companies in New Zealand.

"We believe that we can move forward with some of these initiatives at a much faster pace than what some of the other companies are looking at," he said.

Toyota was also working with other New Zealand organisations committed to the same goal of carbon neutrality.

In addition, Lala said it was drawing on the expertise of Toyota Australia as well as its global head office, but was committed to managing sustainability in New Zealand.

"The last thing you want to do is have to transport these batteries overseas for recycling because it defeats the purpose in terms of the carbon footprint to do that.

"So it does need to happen here. It does have an opportunity to create a new economy."

He said the business was excited to explore new technology initiatives for New Zealand.

The development of hydrogen fuel cells was an example of the technologies Toyota NZ was looking at.

But at the most basic level, Lala said much could be achieved by getting the least efficient vehicles off the road.

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