There’s a warning that, as demand for electric vehicles grows, carmakers around the world are grappling with rising prices of everything from semiconductor chips to copper and aluminium, and now the expense of lithium is starting to bite as a lack of mining capacity strains supplies.
The Daily Telegraph reports that experts are warning the situation is likely to get worse and more investment in production is needed to meet electric vehicle supply chain needs.
The report explains that lithium is found in every commercial electric battery and while alternatives such as sodium exist, they are some years away from mass manufacture and demand will only grow.
It says pricing and analysis firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimates lithium carbonate prices could push up the production costs of electric batteries, especially mass-market models, by 16% or more.
The prices rises are startling. The report says lithium carbonate, which is often used to make cheaper electric cars, is up 289% so far this year to about $24,000 (£18,000) per tonne, while lithium hydroxide, used in longer-range motors, is up 192pc to about $26,000 (£19,500) per tonne, according to figures from Benchmark.
The report concludes, “But until a viable alternative is produced to ease constraints or miners dig more out of the ground, the price of lithium looks set on rising. With demand moving in the same direction, carmakers’ electric dreams risk veering off track.”
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