25 Feb 2024

Modern life is elementary

Elementary my dear…what’s going on? Sorry about that. This computer seems to have predictive text running. While the idea of Sherlock Holmes at Parkit Motors rather tickles me, I was actually going to talk about EVs. Specifically, I wanted to discuss elements necessary to their function. 

Lithium and cobalt are rare earth elements, and both are required for EV batteries. Without these hard-to-find substances, the future planned by our government where we are no longer able to buy a new petrol or diesel car, where we all have to buzz around in electric cars, will not happen. 

Like most of the stuff necessary to make our modern life possible, it tends to be hidden away in the ground, far away from where we are, in such a way as to make it very difficult to extract. Why is it always like that? Why can’t that stuff we need to make that thing go be in a quarry outside Hemel Hempstead or something?  You know, the kind of place that used to stand in for alien worlds on television back in the day. No, that would be too easy.

The point is that with these elements, there is by definition a great need for recycling. No, I don’t mean we will be toting those huge and cumbersome battery assemblies down to the local tip. The stripping down of EV batteries, extraction of elements and reprocessing is going to be one of the major industries of the 21st century.

What does this mean for garages? We are used to being on the front line of the automotive sector, and with all the environmental rules around waste products like oil and some components, we are simultaneously a kind of green powerhouse in the neighbourhood too. While many garages are still learning how to handle EVs, most of this revolves around the issue of not electrocuting yourself. We also need to learn to think differently.

EVs have less moving parts, and once you get over the hump of learning the tech, and manage not to be killed while working on one, in many ways they are much simpler. That means less work, so we may need to re-think how we do things in the business.

In addition. as an industry we are used to remanufactured components. With EVs, in many ways the batteries are going to be like reman parts, where they are made, then unmade, and with all the rare stuff they get remade again. It’s a bit like reincarnation, but with a 0-60mph statistic to learn, which will make it more fun for everyone. 

 

Basically, we will be chucking even less away in the future. That has to be a good thing, as if you think about it, the amount of stuff that gets chucked away around here is pretty bad. The old part comes off, and unless it is something that can be sent away for reman, it gets melted down. Then you get the new part in. Before you get to it, off comes all the packaging. I know that is not exclusive to our sector, but if it can be cut down, then good. 

 

Who knows? Maybe the idea of car ownership will change entirely, in an unexpected way and people will buy a vehicle and keep it very-long term, but swap out the batteries to keep it on the road. Imagine that; EVs making the car parc older. Wouldn’t that would be great for independent garages?