Ford and Redwood Materials have teamed up on a closed-loop system that allows both companies to achieve their goals to make electric vehicles more sustainable, drive down the cost of batteries and ultimately make electric vehicles accessible and affordable for more Americans.
Ford and Redwood are collaborating to achieve the following:
- Ford Motor Company and Redwood Materials, a leading battery materials company, are collaborating to make electric vehicles more sustainable and affordable for Americans by localizing the complex supply chain network, creating recycling options for end-of-life vehicles, ramping lithium-ion recycling and increasing U.S. battery production
- Closing the loop ensures valuable materials that are used in battery production are recycled to be used again to drive down costs and reduce reliance on imports and mining of raw materials
- Creating a U.S. circular supply chain is a major step toward making battery electric vehicles sustainable, accessible and affordable for more Americans
- As part of Ford’s plan to invest more than $30 billion in electrification through 2025 and to further advance their joint business opportunities, Ford has invested $50 million in Redwood to help expand Redwood’s manufacturing footprint.
Redwood is moving forward to produce anode fails and cathode materials all domestically at their new 100 GWh plant which will allow them to supply enough batteries for 1 million electric vehicles per year by 2025.
Redwood expects to have their new manufacturing site producing in Northern Nevada 500 GWh of material providing enough to support 5 million electric vehicles by 2030, half of the US annual vehicle production.
Sustainable and affordable battery materials is the missing pieces of a puzzle that Redwood believes they have solved added to the recycling part of making the BEV market a closed-loop supply chain for clean energy products. The solutions that Ford and Redwood are putting together will remove a very large carbon footprint that is currently dominated by China and has led to a enormous cost along with the large carbon foot print.
Ford and Redwood believe that 95% of a battery pack can be recovered and reused in the closed-loop supply chain that will drive down costs while increasing affordable access to everyone.
To quote Jim Farley, CEO and President of Ford: “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”
Ford has invested $50 million of the recent $700 million raised by Redwood for construction and production of their new battery production and recycling center. As a North America domestic sourced material and battery production center, this greatly reduces the carbon footprint in comparison to other companies that are sourcing their battery supplies from over seas.
Per a recent interview with Bloomberg, Tesla co-founder J.B.Straubel has kept a big secret, Redwood is not really a recycling company only. Redwood did rise to become the U.S. largest Lithium-ion battery recycler in the U.S., but Straubel did not leave Tesla in 2019 to clean out the left over used Lithium battery packs only. The broader goal was to move a major chunk of battery-component industry from Aisa to the U.S.
As Straubel has pointed out, every battery has two electrodes, an anode and cathode, between which current travels and the Cathode is the largest cost of a battery along with determining performance and environmental footprint. Redwood while ramping up in the US to produce battery material as well as recycle said material is also looking to build a similar operation in Europe to support European auto makers.
Electric vehicles make up only 4% of passenger vehicle sales today, but Straubel sees a big flip coming, especially with 15 countries and 31 cities having announced timelines to entirely phase out sales of ICE auto's.
Bloombergs research has shown that every time the global supply for batteries doubles, the cost drops by 18% as per the data tracked by BloombergNEF. Locally sourced battery materials can help drop that cost even faster especially at a time where China accounts for more than 80% of global production of battery components and materials.
As has been pointed out by Redwood, it would take 6,147 recycled iPhone batteries to provide enough Lithium for a tesla model Y but just 166 iPhones to provide enough cobalt. Straubel say's that there is so much cobalt laying around in old electronics that even with Redwood battery production, more will be produced from recycling than it needs from manufacturing and especially as new format batteries come online no longer using Cobalt this will free up it's use for other areas of rare earth elements.
Per Redwood and BloombergNEF data, battery production produces initially more CO2 than building an ICE auto. BEV's are however so much more efficient to operate , they more than make up for the battery pack production even in places where electricity is powered by Coal. Data shows it takes only 16,000 miles of driving an EV to become neutral and after that is a net positive. Roughly a year and Half of car ownership for the average American to then see the benefits of EV ownership.
Consolidating the supply chain and using 50% recycled material would cut emissions from battery-pack manufacturing by 31%. Cleaner cathode production shrinks the overall emissions footprint from long range battery packs.
According to recycling data, the majority of batteries were shredded into what is called "black mass" and this powder is then shipped over to the Asian rim for recycling from Asian companies. Redwood looked to shred up the batteries into a slurry and separate out the valuable nickel, lithium, cobalt and copper into their proper powders that then end back up into the supply chain locally for building of batteries and thus reducing the amount of miles the raw components travel and reducing the CO2 output from the travel across the pacific and back.
Redwood looks to reduce the reliance on foreign suppliers increasing the Made in America label, jobs while reducing costs so more Americans can afford a cleaner electric vehicle.
Straubel is being listened to here in the U.S. and Europe as he was the brains behind Tesla's battery strategy from the start when Elon Musk approached him following a engineering talk at Stanford University in 2003.
Success is almost a given being that when Straubel left Tesla, he brought along to his startup, Kevin Kassekert who was in charge of building Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks Nevada. Kassekert was responsible for finding the site, building the factory and hiring most of the people who operate it.
Kassekert and Staubel with Ford and other investors are looking to fill the missing void in producing inexpensive quality American electric vehicles.
If your thinking as others have, this could be a great time to invest, sadly Redwood is not publicly traded yet. Straubel has declined to disclose his personal stake in Redwood, but did say that he has been a major investor in each funding round and will continue to do so as it is fun and rewarding for him.
This next step in becoming a major battery parts producer will require significant money and all options are on the table to fund the growth of the company. Straubel has stated they are not ready yet for an IPO as they want to grow the company in other ways first, but eventually they would like to go public in the future.
End result, Ford has achieved a major part of their BEV strategy for a closed-loop battery supply and recycle solution that will help them deliver on a BEV at all price points from entry level to luxury and beyond. Redwood has achieved another company to buy from them and use their recycling services and America has gained another source of jobs and local supplied material chain reducing dependence on foreign sourced material.