In the popular imagination, lithium is the element that powers EVs. However, as Elon Musk has pointed out, the term “lithium-ion batteries” is something of a misnomer, because they don’t really contain that much lithium.
“Although [they’re] called lithium-ion, the actual percentage of lithium in a lithium-ion cell is approximately 2%,” Musk explained at Tesla’s 2016 shareholder meeting. “Technically, our cells should be called nickel-graphite, because the primary constituent in the cell as a whole is nickel.”
More recently, Musk reiterated the importance of nickel, and made what sounded to some like an urgent plea for more of the stuff. “I’d just like to re-emphasise, any mining companies out there, please mine more nickel,” said Musk during Tesla’s latest quarterly conference call.
“Wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel and…go for efficiency, obviously environmentally-friendly nickel mining at high volume. Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time, if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”
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