photoIn Europe, the multi-faceted policies at the EU level and in member states are pushing the electrification of the region. The fast-charging infrastructure for EVs throughout Europe is on the way. With the increased number of EVs, that of end-of-life EVs will grow staring from 2030 to 2035. In the EU with the ambition to be the world leader of electrification in the transport sector, preparations for the treatment of end-of-life EVs to significantly increase in the future have begun in the value chain of ELVs.


MIRU had a chance to visit INDRA in France and to speak to Mr. Olivier GAUDEAU, Engineering and Health, Safety and Environment Manger of the company, posing him questions on the current situation of EV treatment, comparison to ICE vehicles, challenges and the future prospects.


We have already introduced the company on our site several times and Mr. GAUDEAU had also participated in the online seminar organized by MIRU where he spoke about the ELV industry in France.


INDRA is known for engaging in multiple businesses from car dismantling, parts sales and ELV collection through its own online platform to consulting on the optimization of car dismantling, to providing solutions for car disassembling. It also controls about one third of ATFs in France though its network, making the company a major car dismantler in France. Renault Group, the second biggest car maker in France, owns INDRA to 50% (another 50% by Suez), placing INDRA in its value chain of ELV recycling under the Group’s environmental strategy.


The number of end-of-life EVs (including Hybrid vehicles) is still very limited. Currently, they are mainly accidented cars or damaged. For the treatment of EVs, dismantlers need to have different techniques, facilities and storage than those of ICE vehicles. For this reason, ATFs who can treat end-of-life EVs are also very few. INDRA is the first ATF (Authorized Treatment Facility) who launched EV treatment. The company profits from this position by providing other ATFs with consultations and the equipment for EV treatment. While there is no specific norms or certificate requirement set by the government for EV treatment in France, workers in ATFs receive training for handling of EV batteries and installing equipment and storage facilities to ensure safety.


The number of end-of life EVs treated in France in 2019 was between 200 and 300. In 2020, the number should go up close to 500.  Currently, the half of them is treated by INDRA as the company had quickly adapted EV treatment requirements prior to other ATFs. As mentioned already, current end-of-life EVs are accidented or damaged, their owners are insurance companies. The company sees that the number of end-of-life EVs will increase from 2030.



The real challenge in end-of-life EV treatment is not technical issues but economic

Q: What are the changes or challenges in EV treatment by comparison to ICE vehicles?


A: In my view, the biggest challenge is not in the technical but in economic side. Car dismantlers have been dealing with various technical issues since long time with the emergence of new models or technologies in vehicles. The same can be said for EV treatment. I think we can respond new needs by developing and installing necessary equipment and training workers. Of course, safety issues in handling EVs are the most important. Particularly, current end-of-life EVs are mostly damaged so fire risk is very high. To prevent fire, you need a special storage. However, these are all the question of finance. New facilities and training need time and investment. Treating EVs also takes more time, at least one hour more than treatment of ICE vehicles. It is not easy. Honestly, profitability versus necessary costs is in question.



The battery is a key to increase profitability  

When we look at materials, their profitability is also lower in EVs. As the number of end-of-life EVs is still limited, needs for their secondhand parts is not high that makes them difficult to sell. In 5 years, the needs will increase. However, still some parts will remain low in needs. For instance, electric motors will be very difficult to sell. They will last long, for 30 to 50 years! As for ICE vehicles, the economic contribution of parts sales is high. But we cannot expect the same profitability with EVs. The important thing is to focus on traction batteries and how to increase profitability with them. This applies of course, to their direct reuse, but also some of modules in better conditions can be reused as well. I think we dismantlers should work on this.



The need of automatization

Q: What is necessary innovation in EV treatment?


A: First, the equipment to ensure safety in working facilities. And in the future, the battery dismantling process should be automated. There are some on-going joint projects at the EU level. Actually, our company is also involved in one of them. While automatizing car dismantling would be very difficult, I think it is possible for battery dismantling.


Q: Will you enter the second life market of batteries?


A: Yes, as I mentioned before, we have to work on batteries in order to increase profitability in the coming era of end-of-life EVs.


Q: Do you engage in the diagnosis of batteries?


A: Yes, we are working on it.




Mr. Olivier GAUDEAU, INDRA Engineering and Health, Safety and Environment Manager



(Translated by Y. SCHANZ)