LONDON (Reuters) – Panasonic Corp expects to more than triple its cobalt consumption in five years’ time, industry sources said, even as the company aims to develop cobalt-free automotive batteries in the near future.
Panasonic is the exclusive battery cell supplier for all new Tesla vehicles, including the mass-market Model 3 electric car. Sources say cobalt-free batteries are many years away.
The scramble to secure supplies of cobalt, which stabilizes and extends the life of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used to power electric vehicles, has seen prices rise to around $40 a lb from below $10 a lb in December 2015.
Japanese battery maker Panasonic has been trying to secure supplies in the physical cobalt market, cobalt industry sources said, adding the company expects to use 10,000 tonnes next year and in 2020 and up to 25,000 tonnes per year by the early 2020s.
Its consumption this year will be about 8,000 tonnes, the sources said. In response to requests for comment, Panasonic said it does not reveal details of its procurement plans.