Automakers have made splashy multibillion-dollar investments toward electrification, but before they can fulfill any of their lofty aspirations, the industry has a critical issue to solve: developing a plan to source raw materials for electric vehicle batteries. Automakers should lead the charge.
EV market share could surge to half of U.S. sales in less than a decade, if the Biden administration reaches its goal, up from less than 3 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales today. The rest of the global industry — specifically China and Europe — is further along and moving faster to replace internal combustion with electricity.
Automakers and battery manufacturers are experimenting with new battery chemistries to increase efficiency and range and reduce cost. But the demand for key materials — vital metals — to assemble the battery cells will nevertheless be huge and growing rapidly. Sourcing them safely, responsibly and at a reasonable cost requires establishing a new supply chain for EV batteries.
Sourcing metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite and manganese for batteries is a problem the industry needs to solve quickly to avoid component shortages similar to the semiconductor and container crises it has faced this year.