Electric car. Lithium, manufacturers’ biggest concern? – L’argus PRO

The European Union is aiming for 100% electricity in the market for new cars by 2035, and this is creating a cold sweat among car manufacturers. While their production facilities have been plagued by production disruptions for more than a year, particularly in the context of semiconductor shortages, some executives like Carlos Tavares (Stellantis) are already worried about a future battery shortage. These require strategic raw materials such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, but the annual guide to CyclOpe raw materials published on June 8 considers lithium to be the most critical.

An electric car battery requires about 5 kg of lithium and global lithium demand could actually be multiplied by four or six by 2030 to exceed 500 kilotons per year, according to estimates by the International Energy Agency. In parallel, the prices of lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxides will double in 2021 because production, mainly located in Australia and Latin America, will not increase at the same rate as global demand.

READ. Electric car. The world park has tripled between 2018 and 2021

Many strategic investments

recycling of battery materials
The Volkswagen Group funds research with the aim of recycling battery materials almost indefinitely.

In this context, car manufacturers are realizing “that they must regain control” on resources instead of just buying them, according to Christophe Poinssot, deputy director general of the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), quoted by AFP. Opposite the price “foolish” lithium, Elon Musk, head of Tesla, thus raised the opportunity in April last year to embark on extraction and refining on a large scale of this material intended for the batteries of his cars. However, the US manufacturer already has contracts for lithium supply, and it is not the only one. Volkswagen and BMW have thus entered the capital of the Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt, which plans to build a lithium refinery in Portugal. Stellantis, Renault and VW have also secured their lithium supply through a contract with the German Vulcan mining project. The manufacturer, which is a result of the merger between PSA and FCA, has also entered into a partnership with supplier Controlled Thermal Resources to supply its plants in North America with lithium.

At the same time, several of them have announced investments in recycling. Renault, for example, joined the consortium of Veolia and Solvay, which aimed to improve the recycling of metals used in batteries. Similarly, Volkswagen is funding a research project aimed at the almost endless recycling of these metals, while Mercedes is opening its own recycling plant in Germany.

READ. Electric cars. A first lithium plant in France

“Strengthening the resilience” of strategic industrial ecosystems

European Union Competitiveness Council
Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, with Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French Minister for Energy Conversion, at the Competitiveness Council held in Luxembourg on 9 June 2022 .

States are also committed to logics to secure strategic metals, especially those that impose a tight schedule on automakers. This is especially the case with the EU. Thus, on 9 June 2022, a “Competitiveness” Council dedicated to the Internal Market and Industry was held in Luxembourg. In addition to a discussion of the future European regulation on semiconductors, European ministers, including Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the French Minister for Energy Conversion, met with EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton and European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager to express their wish. on “strengthening the resilience” of strategic industrial ecosystems.

While the European Commission is working on legislation dedicated to raw materials, Member States have expressed their desire to ensure the supply of these materials “essential to the success of the green and digital transition”. The various proposed levers relate the development of strategic partnerships with other countries, but also the circular economy, or the creation of strategic stocks.

Leave a Comment