With global stocks of rare earth materials fast dwindling, Japanese car manufacturer Honda has devised a plan to help recycle these materials by retrieving them from their own hybrid car batteries.
Honda revealed earlier this week that is planning to aid car recycling measures by retrieving resources from Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries that are used in its range of hybrid vehicles.
The company is looking to extend its range of ‘green’ hybrid vehicles in an effort to aid plans to reduce CO2 emissions and are relying on importing rare earth materials from China, who currently supply over 90 per cent of the world’s total to market.
Honda officials have intimated they will begin recycling rare earths from September/October in a move that will be a first for the automotive industry.
Takanobu Ito, president of Honda, said: "In the long term, we hope to move to renewable energy sources that won’t harm the environment."
Mr Ito reiterated Honda’s efforts to reduce pollution and global warming and revealed that experimental projects to combine solar with fuel-cell cars are part of the ‘dream’ to derive energy solely from nature and merely emit water.
It is said that auto manufacturers sold over 193,000 hybrid cars and EVs in the first five months of this year, setting a record for the biggest January-to-May sales volume for ‘green’ vehicles. Experts predict it will be a while before the recycling industry begins in earnest among the hybrid market.
John O’Dell, green car analyst at Edmunds.com, said: "There are signs that the batteries in the very earliest Toyota Prius and Honda Insight hybrids are starting to go, but those cars were sold in relatively small numbers.
"Over the long term, recycling will play an important role in reducing the costs of hybrids and EVs. The re-use of the metals and rare-earth compounds that make these batteries work will help keep costs down, and the market for used batteries also will help prop up the resale value of electric-drive vehicles, which is a definite plus for consumers."
It is hoped the move will breathe further life into the used car parts market as new recycling technologies become ever more sophisticated.