ID, please: Introducing the Battery Passport for Electric Vehicles

Author: Joachim Geiger

Jul 03, 2024 E-Mobility / Sustainability

Reliable data on electric vehicle batteries along the value chain has been in short supply until now. The European legislature now wants to counteract with the new battery passport. But what are the benefits of this digital ID card? DEKRA expert Kai Maywald considers the battery passport a highly complex eco-label.

The European Commission's new battery regulation, which has been in force in all EU member states since 18 February 2024, is likely to make waves in the automotive industry. With regard to environmental protection and sustainability, for the first time it covers the entire battery life cycle, from extraction of resources through to recycling. It also includes the economic players active in the various phases in its regulations.
Another first is the new requirement for a battery passport. From 18 February 2027, electric vehicle batteries entering the market or put into service in the EU and two-wheeler batteries with a capacity of more than two kWh must have a digital battery passport. Car manufacturers will have to adapt to new responsibilities: Legislation stipulates that the party placing the battery on the market is responsible for providing the battery passport. For vehicle batteries, this is usually the vehicle manufacturer selling the car in which the battery is installed.

The battery passport is designed to create transparency for EV batteries

"The battery passport is intended to map all social, ecological and economic information that is relevant in the life cycle of a battery," explains Kai Maywald from the DEKRA Service Division Vehicles. This includes aspects such as child labour and human rights, but also the resources used, the CO₂ footprint generated during production and distribution, as well as the relevant performance and health data of a battery. "When you look at it closely, the battery passport is a highly complex eco-label," says Kai Maywald. But how could a practicable battery passport look like, complying with EU regulation? When it comes to aspects like data requirements and technical standards for the data infrastructure, the EU regulation is rather vague. In fact, the EU delegates the actual implementation directly to the affected stakeholders. This task now falls to the Battery Pass Consortium, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, whose members include car manufacturers, battery manufacturers, suppliers and IT companies. DEKRA accompanies the work of the consortium as a supporting partner and provides expertise with regard to testing and certification.

A demonstrator illustrates the functions offered by the battery pass

"Battery data and supply chains have to be documented transparently, comprehensibly and reliably. Independent testing and certification is therefore essential," Kai Maywald reports. He follows the consortium's work closely. However, its task is not to develop a single authoritative battery passport. In practice, there will be a number of different passports - all of which will be based on the same technical and content standards. In the meantime, the Battery Pass Consortium has published a guide that shows how the battery pass could be implemented technically. Among other things, the guide contains a comprehensive overview of relevant technical standards. It also contributes to both standardization and standardization processes. One milestone has been the development of a demonstrator, which was presented in March 2024 and illustrates the fundamental concept and features of a battery passport. However, the consortium will not be given a lot of time to pause: for the responsible parties to present the battery passport as planned starting in 2027, the required foundations, technical specifications and test systems must be finalized by the end of 2025.

Added value of the digital file for the value chain

What added value could the battery passport have for companies, authorities and consumers? A study conducted by the Battery Pass Consortium provides initial answers, including a close look at individual players in the value chain. The recycling process, for example, can be made more efficient. Since the passport contains data on the composition of the materials used in the battery and for dismantling, the costs for pre-processing and treatment could be reduced by up to 20 percent. The secondary recycling of traction batteries could also receive a major boost from the battery passport. The underlying idea is that companies will be able to use the performance and service life information from the battery passport to determine the suitability and residual value of a battery much more quickly than before. As a result, procurement costs would fall, which in turn would lead to an increase in demand for discarded batteries - the study predicts an increase in demand of up to 20 percent for stationary battery energy storage systems in Europe. "And who will take responsibility for the technical condition of these batteries so that they can be used safely in storage systems?" asks Kai Maywald.

The Battery Pass will play a role in general inspections

The DEKRA expert believes that the debate surrounding the battery passport raises a number of questions for the future, some of which will only be answered with further research. Maywald also envisages that the battery passport will have a role in the general inspection in years to come. Checking the serial number of the battery, for example, may be included in the inspection schedule in the future. While this is entirely irrelevant for safety, it is very much of interest from a recycling management perspective. Specifically, the question is whether the vehicle battery is the one originally installed or a replacement. In the latter case, evidence of where the original battery and the resources such as lithium, cobalt and rare earths, have remained would be required. The battery's state of health could also be added to the inspection tasks - after all, batteries can lose a considerable amount of capacity with increasing age. An inspector would therefore have to determine whether the installed battery still has the necessary capacity to continue to operate the vehicle safely.
Furthermore, what about the proposed updates to the battery pass once the warranties and voluntary service periods for the vehicle have expired? Many owners switch to an independent workshop after three to four years - with the result that the electric car effectively disappears from the manufacturer's radar.
As a pilot project, the battery passport is intended to pave the way for further digital product passports in the EU. It is therefore very likely that there will be digital product passports for body components, tires and other accessories in the future. These will guarantee the exchange of data in the supply and value chain and compliance with environmental and social standards.