Times have changed in the world of electric vehicles. Tesla’s not the sole standard bearer for EVs anymore. Volvo recently announced each car will be either gas or diesel hybrids or fully electric after 2019. More affordable EVs have begun hitting the market. More than a third of all cars could be electric by 2040. With every carmaker vying for a seat at the EV table, demand for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that go into electric cars is soaring. But whether supply of raw materials that makeup the batteries, such as lithium and cobalt, can keep up with the growing market remains unclear.
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Tesla May Have Bitten Off More Than It Can Chew, Again
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“There was probably some belief in the industry that electric vehicles wouldn’t take off and it wouldn’t happen, but I think now everyone’s accepting the reality that it’s going to be here and it’s gonna be here relatively soon, and people don’t wanna be caught behind the curve,” said Caspar Rawlas, analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
A day after Tesla announced it would produce significantly fewer Model 3s this year than originally planned for, the automaker also said it delivered only 22,000 of 25,000 produced vehicles due to a “severe production shortfall of 100 kWh battery packs, which are made using new technologies on new production lines.” A Tesla spokesperson denied that dwindling raw materials caused the shortfall of battery packs, but it shows how fragile the supply chain could be in the event of such a shortage.
In addition, Tesla did not respond to further inquiry on if the company is anticipating a potential lack of lithium or cobalt. General Motors chose not to comment on the topic either.
The silence from car companies on the issue could signal EV makers don’t have a solution to a potential raw mineral decline. Other electronic industries like computers and phones have a stake in a raw materials decline as well, but they won’t be hit as hard since the battery price for most consumer goods is a small fraction of the total cost, said Tam Hunt from the renewable energy consulting company Community Renewable Solutions LLC.
Car companies, on the other hand, could end up paying a great deal for the lithium-ion batteries—meaning their own hurry into the electric car market would be the EV’s demise.
Times have changed in the world of electric vehicles. Tesla’s not the sole standard bearer for EVs anymore. Volvo recently announced each car will be either gas or diesel hybrids or fully electric after 2019. More affordable EVs have begun hitting the market. More than a third of all cars could be e…