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Posted on EVANNEX on April 03, 2021 by Charles Morris

Electrical autos are coming. After years of getting the EV market virtually to itself, Tesla will see a wave of viable opponents from Volkswagen, GM and others over the following couple of years. In the meantime, industrial autos similar to buses and light-duty vehicles are anticipated to begin electrifying en masse. In fact, Tesla will not be watching these traits from the car parking zone—quite the opposite, it’s additionally shifting forward at freeway velocity, getting ready for upcoming launches of Cybertruck and the Tesla Semi.  

Above: A have a look at the Tesla Mannequin 3 (Supply: EVANNEX; Picture by Casey Murphy)

All these new EVs are going to want batteries—large quantities of them, and it’s clear that the present battery provide chain received’t be enough. A current article in Transport Dive discusses the challenges concerned in constructing a world provide chain that may sustain with the anticipated development in EV manufacturing.

Elon Musk stated in October {that a} scarcity of battery cells is stopping Tesla from ramping manufacturing of its Semi. He reiterated that in January’s earnings name, saying that cell provide was “the basic restrict on electrical autos proper now.”

Extra lately, Musk commented on Twitter relating to the Tesla Semi manufacturing timeline, “We’re too cell-constrained proper now, however most likely okay subsequent 12 months.” He clarified later tweeting, “Demand isn’t any downside, however near-term cell provide makes it laborious to scale Semi. This limitation might be much less onerous subsequent 12 months.”

Celina Mikolajczak, VP of Battery Know-how at Panasonic Vitality of North America, informed Transport Dive, “We’re scaling a provide chain that was able to supplying the buyer electronics business to provide the transportation business.” She famous {that a} cellphone has one battery cell, and a laptop computer has a dozen, whereas an EV could require hundreds. “How do you rapidly scale an business by 100 instances? You want extra uncooked supplies, the expert expertise and machines to extract the uncooked supplies, the factories to course of the uncooked supplies into cell elements, after which the factories to show these elements into cells.”

Batteries symbolize the important thing part of an EV—about 40% of the worth of the car, James Nicholson, a accomplice with consulting agency EY-Parthenon, informed Transport Dive. That’s why car OEMs, together with Tesla, GM and Toyota, are more and more producing cells and packs in-house. “You don’t need that worth going elsewhere,” Nicholson stated.

Moreover, the EV battery market is presently dominated by Asian companies. Nicholson says 97% of present EV demand is provided by battery companies from China, Japan and South Korea. The European Fee lately accredited a multi-billion-dollar funding to develop battery manufacturing on the Continent, and US policymakers are additionally taking tentative steps on this route.

Additional upstream, the uncooked supplies for cells, particularly lithium, nickel and cobalt, current one other set of issues. “There’s loads of lithium round within the floor. There’s not a bodily scarcity of it,” Nicholson stated. “However there’s an financial scarcity of it, which is [that] lithium costs don’t help the mining funding that’s required to get it out of the bottom profitably.”

“There are sources of nickel in North America and Finland and Russia and within the Far East and in China, however you additionally need to refine the nickel, and there’s a restricted variety of locations you are able to do that,” stated Nicholson, including that a lot of the refining capability is in China.

As for cobalt, its unsavory popularity is such that automakers are attempting to eradicate it from the equation altogether. “Panasonic has already established the expertise to supply cobalt-free batteries, and it’s anticipated to be commercialized inside the subsequent two to a few years,” Mikolajczak stated.

Recycling battery cells can be crucial, not solely to keep away from the environmental harm of junking them, but in addition as a supply of uncooked supplies. Redwood Supplies, the battery recycling enterprise based by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, is a pioneer on this subject, and is working to determine a round provide chain for cells. “The most important lithium mine is within the junk drawers of America,” Straubel lately quipped. 

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This text initially appeared in Charged. Creator: Charles Morris. Supply: Transport Dive