Mercedes-Benz to build a battery recycling plant in Kuppenheim


The first stage of the plant, the mechanical dismantling of electric vehicle batteries, is scheduled to begin ramping up by the end of this year. A pilot hydrometallurgy plant will be established in just a few months, subject to the outcome of promising discussions with the public sector. The unique approach for an integrated recycling system within a single factory is currently unheard of in Europe. In the construction of the balance sheet CO neutral plant, Mercedes-Benz is investing a double-digit million Euro in the construction, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection as part of a scientific research project. This investment strengthens the role of the Kuppenheim site within the worldwide Mercedes-Benz production network and marks a crucial step for Mercedes-Benz's sustainable business strategy as it moves towards going Electric Only. With a recovery rate of more than 96 percent, a complete circular economy of battery materials can be achieved through the hydrometallurgy process. Mercedes-Benz is working together with technology partner Primobius joint venture, the German mechanical engineering company SMS group, and the Australian project developer Neometals to carry out the entire process of battery recycling: from the design of logistics concepts, through the sustainable recycling of valuable raw materials, to the reintegration of recyclates into the production of new batteries. The partners are therefore making an important contribution to the future scaling of the battery recycling industry in Germany.

The pilot plant is predicted to have a annual capacity of 2,500 tonnes. The recovered materials will be sent back to the recycling loop to produce more than 50,000 battery modules for new Mercedes-Benz models. According to the pilot factory's findings, production volumes could be scaled up in the medium to long term.

Mercedes-Benz is taking a comprehensive approach to the circular economy of battery systems, considering three key areas: circular design, value retention, and closing the loop. The company created a concept for each vehicle model during the development of a vehicle, where all components and materials are evaluated for their suitability in the context of a circular economy. The process of material recycling of the raw materials used, including lithium, nickel, and cobalt, is a crucial part of this strategy, and also begins with the design of the components. The entire supply chain is covered by this approach, from mining to recycling. The respect of human rights in the workplace environment is also reflected in a high level of attention. Reconditioned batteries are offered as replacement parts for all electric vehicles, in order to adhere to the idea of a closed economic loop and conserve resources. Mercedes-Benz has also established a successful business model with stationary energy storages through its subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz Energy. A 2 nd-life storage system can still be used by batteries that can no longer be used in vehicles. At the end of a battery's life, material recycling is the key to closing the loop of recyclable materials.