Commentary: Tesla leads electric vehicle race to cut cobalt dependency – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – June 6, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – If Elon Musk had his way, there would be no cobalt in any of the batteries powering the next generation of Tesla. At the very least, “we think we can get the cobalt to almost nothing”, he told analysts on the company’s first quarter results call.

Panasonic, which supplies the batteries for Tesla’s electric cars, is “aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future and development is under way”, according to Kenji Tamura, who is in charge of the Japanese firm’s automotive battery business.

The two companies are leading an industry race to reduce exposure to the metal even before the electric vehicle (EV)revolution truly builds momentum. It’s not difficult to see why. The London Metal Exchange price of the battery input has already rocketed from under $30,000 per tonne at the end of 2016 to a current $86,750.

It could go even higher. Cobalt supply is dominated by Democratic Republic of Congo, presenting a volatile cocktail of political, operational and ethical risk. And cobalt from Congo is dominated by China, which has locked down supply chains to secure its own fast-growing battery sector.

For relative newcomers, which means much of the European automotive sector, cobalt is the most problematic of all the ingredients in the metallic alchemy of an EV battery pack.

For the rest of this article:

Comments are closed.