European automotive and automotive battery industries call for extension of the exemption of lead-based batteries from the EU ELV Directive

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Lead battery and car manufacturers have requested that the current exemption for lead-based batteries within the End of LIfe Vehicle (ELV) Directive’s wider ban on lead in light-duty vehicles is maintained for at least another eight years.

Car batteries

There are at present no alternatives, either technically or economically, to lead-based batteries for the SLI (Starting – Lighting –Ignition) function in vehicles.

The EU must continue to allow the use of lead-based batteries in vehicles as they are essential for the needs of future generations of European cars, according to the automotive and automotive battery industries in Europe

The recommendation by EUROBAT, the European, Japanese and Korean car industry associations (ACEA – JAMA – KAMA) and the International Lead Association (ILA), is backed by a series of
studies on the technical benefits of lead-based batteries and their sustainability, which includes their 99% recycling rate in Europe and the general availability of the natural resources used to make up the battery.

The comments are part of the formal submission made by the industry group to EU regulators who concluded the public consultation phase of the review of the End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive this week. Lead battery and car manufacturers have requested that the current exemption for lead-based batteries within the ELV Directive’s wider ban on lead in light-duty vehicles is maintained for at least another eight years.

ILA Managing Director, Dr Andy Bush, said: “The technical attributes of lead-based batteries, coupled with their excellent recycling rate, means that it is vital that the EU End of Life Vehicle Directive continues to allow the automotive industry to use of this type of battery.”

Part of the evidence submitted to the EU Commission is a study A Review of Battery Technologies for Automotive Applications which found that there are at present no alternatives, either technically or economically, to lead-based batteries for the SLI (Starting – Lighting –Ignition) function in vehicles. This means lead-based batteries are essential in virtually all conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, hybrid vehicles (mild, micro and Plug-in-HEV, PHEV) and full electric vehicles (see also Notes for Editors below).

The study also concludes that lead-based batteries will remain the only viable mass market energy storage system in automotive applications for the foreseeable future. Their low cost and unparalleled ability to start a car engine at cold temperatures sets them apart in conventional and basic micro-hybrid vehicles, and as auxiliary batteries in all other automotive applications.

Three additional studies also highlight the positive sustainability and environmental credentials of lead-based batteries that are an excellent example of the EU circular economy in action. The studies show:

  • At the end-of-life, lead-based batteries have a 99% collection and recycling rate in a closed loop system – making lead-based batteries the most recycled consumer products in the EU.
  • Using lead batteries in start-stop or micro-hybrid systems results in emission savings of between 700-1600 kg CO2 equivalent over a vehicle’s lifetime.
  • The high recycling rate means that the environmental impacts of lead-based batteries, compared to the overall environmental impact of a vehicle, is negligible.
  • There are no current or future resource availability issues with metals used in lead-based batteries.

Following the consultation the Commission is expected to release its opinion in the first half of 2015.

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