Europe Developing 'Battery Passport' for EVs

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

  • Wolfwagen When will GM and Dodge/Ram come out with a BOF 2 door sport utility? Im not one that jumps on the first year new vehicle bandwagon, but for a new Ramcharger, I'd sleep out in front of a dealership for days to be first in line for preordering (or infront of my computer for hours)
  • Wolfwagen Is it me or does the front end look like a smaller silverado?
  • MQHokie Who decided moving all headlight control to the touchscreen was a good idea? I assume this means no manual high beam control anymore, so you're at the mercy of the automatic system that gets fooled by street lights, porch lights, sign reflections etc. Not to mention a good software bug or a light sensor failure might render the lights inoperable. With all the restrictions the NHTSA has placed on USA headlight design over the years, it amazes me that this is even legal.
  • Teddyc73 The Bronco just doesn't have enough editions and models.
  • ToolGuy @Matt, let me throw this at you:Let's say I drive a typical ICE vehicle 15,000 miles/year at a typical 18 mpg (observed). Let's say fuel is $4.50/gallon and electricity cost for my EV will be one-third of my gasoline cost - so replacing the ICE with an EV would save me $2,500 per year. Let's say I keep my vehicles 8 years. That's $20,000 in fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.If the vehicles have equal capabilities and are otherwise comparable, a rational typical consumer should be willing to pay up to a $20,000 premium for the EV over the ICE. (More if they drive more.)TL;DR: Why do they cost more? Because they are worth it (potentially).