Economic Potentials of Ecologically Attractive Multi-Life Products : The Example of Lithium-Ion Batteries

The growth of the electric vehicle market is increasing the demand for batteries. The production of vehicle batteries has a high environmental impact and at the same time represents a high cost factor in the production of electric vehicles. Both the raw materials and the production capacity required for vehicle batteries are very limited. Driven by the increasing scarcity of resources and the rising internalization of external environmental costs, as well as by policy regulations, this paper shows a possibility of life cycle extension that goes beyond the circular economy approach and opens up additional economic and ecological potentials. In contrast to the current end-of-life strategies and the circular economy approach, a new innovation philosophy and business models for sustainable multi-life products are developed. To this end, we first conducted an economic analysis in three steps and developed a multi-life indicator in the process. Based on this, we integrated the influence of political regulations in a fourth step and elaborated on their effects in five scenarios. Our results show a savings potential of 5–30% (multi-life indicator M 0.95–0.70) compared to single-life batteries. This savings potential shows the importance of the new strategic multi-life approach and justifies the need for further research in this field.


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