Survey measures consumers’ attitudes, knowledge of EV batteries

A recent study commissioned by Ascend Elements found that 37 percent of respondents don’t understand that recycled lithium-ion battery materials can be used to make new EV batteries.

electric vehicle battery being charged
Ascend Elements Vice President of Marketing & Government Relations Roger Lin says more consumer education is needed on lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles.
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Electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling is a booming industry—and the key to lowering the carbon footprint of EVs—but nearly half of respondents to a recent survey mistakenly believe lithium-ion EV batteries are destined for landfills.

A new study commissioned by engineered battery materials company Ascend Elements, Westborough, Massachusetts, found that 47 percent of those surveyed think EV batteries cannot be recycled. Thirty-seven percent don’t understand that recycled lithium-ion battery materials can be used to make new EV batteries, and 39 percent of respondents realize that the critical materials in lithium-ion EV batteries can be recycled over and over without performance loss, Ascend Elements says in a news release.

The study was conducted by an independent research firm that surveyed a random sample of 1,004 United States consumers about their beliefs and attitudes regarding battery technology and EVs. The margin of error is plus-or-minus three percent at a 95 percent confidence level. 

“We’ve encountered many myths and misconceptions about electric vehicles and, in particular, EV battery recycling,” Ascend Elements Vice President of Marketing &Government Relations Roger Lin says. “The industry has made terrific advances in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of lithium-ion battery recycling, but these false narratives about EV batteries continue. We are changing that by creating an infrastructure that would make it unthinkable to let a lithium-ion battery go to landfill. They are just too valuable.”

According to the study, 53 percent of Americans say their attitude toward EVs is more positive than it was just three years ago. The survey had other key findings:

  • Forty-six percent of respondents say electric vehicles will outsell gasoline-powered cars in their lifetime. 
  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents say EVs are better for the environment than gas-powered cars.
  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents say electric vehicles will save them money over the lifetime of the vehicle.
  • Thirty-three percent of respondents mistakenly believe lithium-ion batteries can be recycled in the household recycling bin.
  • Twenty-seven percent of respondents think it is OK to throw used lithium-ion batteries in household trash.

“For the record, lithium-ion batteries should never be put in the trash or the household recycling bin, but these survey responses help explain why we sometimes see fires and explosions in waste management facilities and recycling centers,” Lin says. “Used batteries should be dropped off at authorized collection points, many of which can be found at the big box hardware stores.”

He suggests visiting call2recycle.org to find the nearest drop-off location for batteries.

Other survey findings include:

  • Forty percent of respondents say lithium-ion EV batteries aren’t really “greener” than internal combustion engines.
  • Fifty percent of respondents say owning an EV means they’ll need to wait in long lines for charging stations.
  • Fifty-three percent of respondents think EVs are more expensive to repair.
  • Forty-seven percent of respondents think too many EVs will overwhelm the power grid.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents think electric vehicles are too small and slow compared with gas-powered cars.
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents say lithium-ion EV batteries don’t offer as much range as internal combustion engines.
  • Fifty-four percent of respondents are concerned about what we will do with all these lithium-ion EV batteries after they reach the end of their lives. 
  • Forty-eight percent of respondents think that EVs will cause toxic landfills full of old lithium-ion batteries.   
  • Forty percent of respondents say the batteries in electric vehicles are more dangerous than the gasoline in internal combustion engine vehicles.   
  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents think that lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries are sourced using destructive mining techniques.
  • Forty-five percent of respondents think the US isn’t competitive when it comes to manufacturing lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries. 

Lin says the survey points to an industrywide need for improved consumer education and outreach about lithium-ion batteries and battery recycling best practices.

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