Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

green parts secialists

Electrification: the impact on the depollution process and ATFs’ bottom line

Caroline Guest talks about vehicle depollution and ATFs
Caroline Guest
Whilst at CARS this Summer I was encouraged by the opportunities for recovering value at the end of life being taken advantage of by ATFs and the market for selling dismantled parts.

I was given a demonstration by Hollander of their system for managing and selling yard inventory and also saw the value eBay places on this part of ecommerce through their presence.

However, a couple of months later I watched a high-voltage battery being removed from an electric vehicle after it had undergone durability testing and thought about how this would impact on ATFs’ margins. Depollution is a necessary step to be undertaken before any further dismantling or shredding; from discussions with ATFs this process is a cost, it’s done because it’s necessary. HV battery removal will be an additional part of this process and depending on its ease of removal, could add significant costs in terms of labour and equipment.

There are the obvious safety implications of handling these batteries, and ATFs have started to train their staff to be able to handle them. This in itself increases costs, putting pressure on the smaller operations and making it crucial to retain staff once trained. 

The first step with a car with a HV battery is to remove the manual service disconnect (MSD) and then wait about 10 minutes to ensure the passive discharge of the high voltage system has completed. Hybrids (including range extended vehicles) still have an exhaust and this can be located under the battery, complicating removal. There are also multiple high-voltage cables to be safely disconnected and the coolant must be drained from the battery (the coolant system can be integrated with the engine and transmission in one system). Lastly, batteries that are secured to the underside of the vehicle can have over twenty fasteners securing them, which must be carefully removed whilst supporting the weight of the battery (hundreds of kg) so that it doesn’t drop or tip. 

This all adds up to more investment in specialist equipment needed and more cost in terms of labour to carry out the depollution process. Add to this the lack of standardisation in battery architecture and location and design of the MSD and this is a big headache for the smaller operations. Will it be commercially feasible for them to carry out this work? 

There are some OEMs that consider dismantling in their design; Toyota visits dismantling companies in Japan and elsewhere to understand how to develop the vehicle to make it easy to dismantle and separate parts. It has even designed wiring harnesses to be easily stripped out without dismantling other components to increase the value obtained for the copper. However, designing with end of life in mind needs to be more widespread and collaborative across the supply chain, engaging with the ATFs and material processors. 

This is what we are doing with LEVC, as part of an Advanced Propulsion Centre project, looking at how best to recover the value of components and materials at the end of life and how this can be influenced by design.

With most vehicles, dismantlers have to find ways to work around the design, an integrated supply chain with design for disassembly could make this much easier and benefit all involved. Electrification and the increase in potential of end of life vehicles can be seen as a catalyst for driving better integration of the supply chain and flows for retaining the value and creating new opportunities. 

Visit to find out more about the company or if you would like to contact Caroline direct please email her at

About the author:

Caroline is a Technical Specialist in Sustainable Manufacturing at HSSMI, a manufacturing innovation company. With an MSc in the topic, her focus is on developing remanufacturing and more efficient use of resources, particularly in the field of automotive electrification. She previously worked at Ford Motor Company, a career spanning over 20 years, working across all areas of the business, focussed mainly on vehicle launches throughout the world.


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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