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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Ford is partnering with battery recycling company Redwood Materials to lay the groundwork for a domestic supply chain for electric vehicle batteries that relies on closed-loop recycling.

The big picture: The long-term vision would ensure that critical battery materials like lithium, nickel, copper and cobalt are re-used in new batteries, reducing the need for imports and avoiding further environmental damage through mining.

  • Creating a circular supply chain would also help reduce battery costs, making EVs more affordable, the companies say.

Context: The collaboration agreement comes one week after Redwood disclosed plans to move a huge chunk of the battery-component industry from Asia to the U.S., as Bloomberg first reported.

  • Nevada-based Redwood, founded by former Tesla battery exec JB Straubel, plans to build a $1 billion-factory to produce anode copper foil and cathode materials to U.S. partners.
  • Ford, which is spending $30 billion on electrification through 2025, said it invested $50 million in Redwood, part of its recent $700 million capital raise.

Details: The two companies will begin by salvaging scrap materials from Ford's planned battery joint venture with Korean battery manufacturing SK Innovation.

  • BlueOvalSK plans to open "multiple" battery plants in North America starting mid-decade and will aim to use some of Redwood's recycled materials.
  • Eventually, Ford and Redwood intend to salvage battery materials from EVs at the end of their life, but that's still 15 or 20 years away.

What they're saying: "Integrating battery recycling into our manufacturing process is really mission critical," Lisa Drake, Ford’s North America chief operating officer, told reporters Tuesday.

  • "As the market grows, we know the demand on commodities is going to outstrip supply. We also know we don’t have the supply here in the U.S.," she said.
  • Straubel added: "The risk is that we find ourselves in a situation similar to the current semiconductor shortage if we don’t plan ahead and we aren’t strategic about putting supply chains in the right regions at the right time."
  • "Any companies that are serious about switching to electric vehicles, this issue has to be addressed," he said.

State of play: GM's battery manufacturing joint venture, Ultium Cells LLC, announced earlier this year a recycling deal with Li-Cycle to collect and reuse scrap materials.

  • Straubel said Redwood's plan with Ford is "unique in terms of its depth and scope."

What to watch: The U.S. recently laid out a national blueprint for lithium batteries, which aims to establish a secure supply chain for battery materials and technology by 2030.

Go deeper

GM plans to double revenues by 2030 as it rolls out EVs and services

GM CEO Mary Barra. Photo: GM

General Motors plans to double its revenues over the next decade as it transitions to an all-electric future, tapping into software and subscription services that enable new vehicle experiences and connect customers' digital lives, the company told reporters on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's an extraordinary target for a lumbering industrial giant that is trying to transform itself from automaker to "platform innovator."

Trump blasts “wacky” GOP Sen. Cassidy after “Axios on HBO” interview

Former President Trump on Monday blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he told "Axios on HBO" that he is not sure Trump could win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Driving the news: When told that Trump could be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in saying: "I don't know that."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.