China released a draft regulation last week to solicit opinions on monitoring electric car batteries throughout their lifetime, with compulsory registration and reuse, to aid the segment's development and ease consumer concerns.
From August, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will establish an online national information management platform to monitor and track the production, sales, service, recycling and reuse of batteries produced by carmakers.
The draft of the regulation requires automakers upload battery data to the system within seven working days after each vehicle has received certification. For electric vehicles produced before August this year, their data should be uploaded to the system by the end of August of 2019.
All of the companies involved in sales, repair, distribution, recycling and reusing the batteries are required to have their related data uploaded. The online monitoring and tracking system is seen by industry experts as key to establishing an effective way of managing the lifecycle of batteries in the years to come.
The batteries in the first batch of new energy vehicles sold in China will soon be reaching the end of their lifecycle, according to Yale Zhang, managing director of consultancy firm Automotive Foresight.
"Those products have a smaller capacity and shorter life span. After running about a decade, it's time to have them retired and treated properly," he said.
As complicated battery products, vehicle battery packs are composed of many battery cells. Specialist processes need to be carried out on these batteries for them to be recycled or reused, which could bear hefty costs to car users.
Only carmakers have the ability to collect used batteries, according to Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.
Among the early new energy pioneers, BYD Auto and BMW Brilliance Automotive have been fulfilling their responsibility of recycling batteries without extra charges to users, and working on reuse programs in an effort to minimize the impact to the environment.
BYD Co, parent of BYD Auto, takes back its end of lifecycle batteries and reuses them in energy storage stations for the electricity generated from its wind and solar power plants, as part of BYD's new energy network, according to the company.
BMW Brilliance entered into a collaboration with Hunan Brunp Recycling Technology Co and so far have achieved a 98.5 percent recycling rate for their batteries, well above the national standard of 95 percent, according to Yu Haijun, vice-president of Brunp Recycling.
The ministry said that without proper means of disposal, old batteries could bring about environmental and safety risks and result in a waste of resources.
Batteries from the first wave of new energy cars in China will begin to reach the end of their lifecycle in a large scale this year, with up to 200,000 tons of batteries coming to an end of their lifecycle by 2020, according to MIIT.
The China Automotive Technology and Research Center estimated the country would see 350,000 tons of batteries disposed of by 2025.
The country's top economic planner, the National Development Reform Commission, started encouraging the production of the new energy vehicles in 2007 with its Industry Restructure Guideline.
Two years later, NDRC, MIIT, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Science and Technology joined hands in launching the financial subsidy plans in January 2009 to promote the purchase and use of a total of 30,000 new energy vehicles in 10 cities throughout a three-year period.