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Infintev sets up second battery facility in NZ

Aussie EV battery remanufacturing pioneer Infinitev begins expansion with NZ facility

11 Jul 2023

AUSTRALIAN end-of-life electrified vehicle (EV) battery remanufacturing and repurposing operation Infinitev has made its first overseas expansion step with a second state-of-the-art facility in Auckland, New Zealand, to meet demand caused by a flood of used import EVs.


The Australian-first second-life battery program has seen soaring domestic demand since launching in November last year, with more than 700 battery packs – or more than 23,000 modules – repurposed so far out of its Melbourne facility.


Infinitev general manager Dickson Leow – a former Toyota Australia engineer with a long list of accomplishments in the fields of mobility and electrification – told GoAuto that strong interest from overseas markets led to the second battery facility being established in Auckland.


“NZ has an influx of grey imports from Japan due to the legislation and incentives from the government to go ‘green’,” so there are a lot more opportunities to reuse and repurpose the batteries from the fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles,” explained Mr Leow.


“The vehicles imported to NZ via the scheme are generally six to eight years old, so the battery is post-warranty and Infinitev is there to assist customers – and the manufacturers – to ensure proper treatment of the batteries and possibly prolong their usage.”


Infinitev’s Auckland site is similar in size and output capacity to the one in Melbourne, upping total battery remanufacturing capacity to 100 units per month between the two, but both are modular to allow for increased capacity in line with growth in demand. 


The firm is able to reuse or repurpose batteries from hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles at each of its facilities, with unviable units and cells sent away for safe, specialist recycling.


As well as significantly reducing waste when battery packs reach the end of their life or develop faults that could otherwise be uneconomical to repair, Inifinev’s process can save EV owners thousands of dollars over a full battery pack replacement.


Most battery packs are removed upon losing 20-30 per cent of capacity compared to new, which Infinitev says occurs around the six-year mark according to recent data, with many until now discarded as consumable items. 


"Infitiev’s ability to identify and repair battery packs that are faulty, slow to charge, or no longer performing at an effective level provides these batteries with a second life,” Mr Leow said.


“Further, Infinitiev can repurpose batteries no longer suited to vehicle applications as an energy storage system.”


Currently, it is estimated that less than one per cent of lithium used in batteries globally is recycled, but Infinitev says it has steps in place to ensure that up to 70-80 per cent of the lithium can be recycled from EV batteries. 


"Infinitev has its algorithms of triaging the battery. Based on the status and information we will reuse, repurpose or recycle.  We partner with a third-party recycler which meets our requirements and we do not recycle any of the batteries (materials) ourselves,” Mr Leow said.


“Depending on the material, minerals, and chemistry of the battery, the recovered and recycled material is processed into black mass which can be shipped to be raw materials for manufacturing batteries or other items, or rare metals are extracted for their use in other commodities.”


The ability to recycle elements from within vehicle batteries is part of Infinitev’s focus on creating a true circular economy for hybrid and electric vehicles, while assisting manufacturers as they endeavour to boost their sustainability credentials.


“The automotive industry traditionally sources materials from the Earth to manufacture hybrid and EV batteries, eventually disposing of the faulty product as waste,” Mr Leow said.


“Infinitiev partners with the automotive industry and other stakeholders to create a sustainable circular economy for EV batteries.”


Set to launch early next year, Infinitev will also be offering plug-and-play energy storage systems using lithium EV batteries that are deemed no longer suited to vehicle applications. 


These systems, developed in partnership with Sustainability Victoria, will provide reliable energy peak shaving, load levelling and even potential off-grid power supply. 


“We have demonstrated the feasibility with our pilot program and repurposed nine vehicles worth of batteries,” Mr Leow said.


“We are now gearing up the commercial process for launching the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) product by March 2024.”


When asked if Infinitev has plans to expand beyond Australia and New Zealand, Mr Leow told GoAuto that overseas interest is strong.


“We have many queries from neighbouring countries about their hybrid batteries and have been discussing with the United Nations Development Programme how Infinitev may be able to assist less developed countries to accelerate their uptake of EV and low-emission vehicles,” he said.


Infinitiev offers its remanufactured battery packs with a three-year/40,000km warranty and, according to Mr Leow, they can be supplied and fitted at a significantly lower price than new OEM equivalents.


“To use a Toyota Prius as an example, a new battery from the OEM will cost you around $3000 fitted,” said Mr Leow.


“The first would be a comparable aftermarket battery at around $2500 fitted, with a three-year/200,000km warranty.


“While the latest option, using the process of the circular economy where we have a workable remanufactured battery, will be around only $2000 fitted, with a three-year/40,000km warranty.”

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