Will the electric-vehicle industry run short of nickel? It is a possibility, but investors shouldn’t bet on a cobalt-style rally soon.
After stalling in the first half due to pandemic-related shutdowns, electric-vehicle sales are growing fast again. Market leader Tesla produced 51% more vehicles in the third quarter than in the same period last year.
Most of the raw materials required for electric vehicles are the same as those used in conventional ones, but the metals that make up lithium-ion batteries are exceptions.
Until recently, procurement worries—and market speculation—tended to center on lithium and cobalt. Now nickel has started to attract attention too. At Tesla’s “battery day” last month, Chief Executive Elon Musk said he had told mining executives to “please make more nickel.”
Prized for improving vehicle range, nickel has taken center stage in the chemistry of cathodes. One standard form of cathode—the most valuable part of an automotive-grade lithium-ion battery—used to contain equal parts of nickel, cobalt and manganese.
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