Second life for used batteries infographic

Recycling your battery

The regulations for the batteries that go into electric vehicles are extremely strict. At Volkswagen, we use this to drive our research into increasing the effectiveness of not just new batteries, but used ones too.

Maximising the life of the battery plays a central role in our Volkswagen Group sustainability strategy.

Accelerating, braking, quick-charging at a station, overnight charging at home. All of these put strain on batteries. Environmental changes can also impact the battery, such as transitioning from a cold winter to a hot summer. Then there are the extreme conditions the battery is placed under, like moisture and hard vibrations. But despite this, Volkswagen has made a commitment that after eight years, or 100,000 miles/160,000 km, 80% of the battery capacity will still be available. Inevitably however, there will come a time when the battery is no longer fit for use in a vehicle, and that’s when it becomes a second-life battery.


In addition to an optimal recycling process, the extension of the working life plays a central role in our battery strategy. “In principle, the batteries should be repaired or reconditioned in the first instance or be converted into second-life projects for complete reuse,” says Tobias Enge, a group strategist in the business field of e-mobility and infrastructure. “Further processing in alternative environments – for example into mass-storage devices – is being researched as part of use cases and developed for practical applications.”

Essentially this means that used vehicle batteries are bundled together to form a much larger battery, which in turn helps to power both Volkswagen plants and co-operative projects with suppliers and cities.

Infographic of battery reusage.


By replacing certain components found inside, some batteries can be used in electric vehicles again. Parts taken from used batteries can also go into storage and then be reused later.

Infographic of battery remanifacturing.


Sooner or later, the time comes for a battery to be recycled. This is done carefully and safely in co-operation with a number of recycling partners. “The batteries are dismantled, crushed and reprocessed. Here, raw materials such as nickel (Ni), copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) are recovered in large quantities and can then, for example, be reused in the production of new battery cells,” Enge explains. This all ensures that we keep waste to a minimum while manufacturing our batteries.

Infographic of battery recycling.

As soon as there are enough reusable batteries and electric vehicles, these strategies will be rolled out across the whole Volkswagen Group.

Next steps