Europe Developing 'Battery Passport' for EVs

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
europe developing 8216 battery passport for evs

A group of German automakers, chemical concerns, and battery producers have announced the joint development of a “battery passport” designed to help government regulators trace the history of the cells. The consortium is funded by the German government and is supposed to work in tandem with new battery regulations that are being prepared by the European Union.

According to the German economic ministry, officially the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the overarching plan is for the EU to mandate traceable hardware be installed in all batteries used in the continent by 2026. Those intended for use in electric vehicles are up first, with the passport scheme also serving to chronicle everything from the vehicle’s repair history to where the power cell’s raw materials were sourced.

This is part of a global initiative to advance the concept of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scores for businesses in order to get preferential treatment from financial institutions and the government. But it also serves as a way for larger entities to exert new controls over entire industries.

ESG scores have been heavily criticized for effectively advantaging existing monopolies while giving government regulators unprecedented levels of control. Additional criticisms typically boil down to unfavorable comparisons of China’s social credit scoring scheme, which has been expanded to individual citizens, and the likelihood of adding bureaucratic red tape and thereby heightened cost to consumers. However, there’s no shortage of government officials or top-ranking executives willing to endorse ESG inanities as essential for progress — making it a kind of strange marriage between business and the state.

According to Reuters, the consortium is eleven members strong and includes brands like BASF, BMW, and Umicore. Thus far, the German government has issued 8.2 million euros ($8.78 million USD) to the group to develop a common classification and standards for gathering and disclosing data on the batteries, which could soon become mandatory. The resulting system is assumed to have serialized batteries and some integration with today’s connected vehicle technologies.

From Reuters:

A European Commission proposal due to be discussed later this year states that rechargeable electric vehicles, light transport and industrial batteries sold in Europe must disclose their carbon footprint from 2024 and comply with a CO2 emissions limit from 2027.

They must also disclose the content of recycled raw materials in those batteries from 2027, followed by requirements to use a minimum share of recycled cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead from 2030.

The German consortium is the first project in Europe to attempt to design a digital product to meet these regulations, Germany’s economy ministry said.

Batteries could carry a QR code linking to an online database where EV owners, businesses or regulators could access information on the battery’s composition.

U.K.-based supply chain traceability company Circulor has reportedly been tasked with implementing the project’s digital passport technology. Germany said that the passport scheme would aid in battery recycling while also providing a comprehensive history of the battery throughout its lifespan. This is supposed to include the portion preceding its construction. But it’s not abundantly clear how that aspect of the plan actually works. Do we just take the manufacturer’s word for it?

I’m also a little concerned that this could eventually end up as another arrow in the quiver of industries that are trying to hoard ownership rights on products they’ve already sold to the consumers.

As vehicles and other products have become perpetually connected to the internet (beaming out your private data FYI), manufacturers have begun trying to put up roadblocks for anyone hoping to fix their own vehicle or utilize an independently owned repair shop. Despite the right-to-repair movement doing its utmost to prevent this, it’s fighting on too many fronts and is going against well-funded corporate lobbyists possessing longstanding relationships with government legislators. Meanwhile, the European Union seems far more interested in exerting new regulatory controls under the auspices of environmentalism and safety than backing a grass-roots movement comprised of people who still want to fix things.

Though we don’t know for certain exactly how the passports will be utilized, there’s clearly room for real altruism in the plan. Such a system would arguably allow for better monitoring of supply chains and make the industry more adaptable. It’s just not historically been the case that heightened government involvement always works out as better for the environment. We need only point to Europe’s previous incentivizing of diesel-powered vehicles, which lasted for decades before new data revealed that the initiative probably produced more air pollution — not less.

The bottom line is that Germany has effectively asked some of the biggest companies how to police themselves while handing over a wad of cash. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to be a little suspect of the resulting plan, especially since the EU seems poised to run with it before it even knows for sure what the resulting battery passports will entail. We’ll be curious to see how the groundwork for this is presented because it could have major ramifications for numerous industries.

[Image: guteksk7/Shutterstock]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 26, 2022

    Tracking these materials, parts, and assemblies is a good idea, and merely an extension of existing policies on other car parts such as engines, transmissions, airbags, fenders, and even wheels. Medical devices require such traceability, and you should be glad about that. "Numbers matching" will also apply to EVs and their drivetrain components, although in the future you may not want them to match. It will also be a way to track theft and recalls. Heck, the $20 Sharkbite valve I bought at Lowe's the other day had an RFID tag on it.

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Apr 26, 2022

      Yes. I don't see this as a source of paranoia. If I were to buy a used EV, I'd like to know the projected remaining battery life and any issues. This would keep track of all that. It would be nice to know that sort of thing even when buying an ICE vehicle. This might help with tracking theft and help control Chineseum knockoff products being used in repairs. Let's just throw some red meat out to the slippery slope, "they are controlling us" types while they wander around with a tracker in their pocket read cell phone. Oh and Elon buys Twitter privately.

  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Apr 26, 2022

    First you whine for years about the recycling costs or pollution of batteries, then when intelligent people map out a plan to recycle the car and it's components you whine about that too, FOX news baby culture

  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.
  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.