US and Europe risk being left behind unless they secure cobalt supplies for batteries, says Ivan Glasenberg
The car industry in the US and Europe risks being left behind by their Chinese rivals unless they secure supplies of cobalt, according to the world’s biggest producer of the key battery metal.
Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg told the FT Future of the Car Summit on Wednesday that western carmakers would be naive to think they could always rely on China to supply the batteries for electric vehicle fleets.
Glasenberg said Chinese companies had been quick to realise the vulnerability of their supply chains and “tied up” lots of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is a metal needed in the lithium-ion batteries used in longer-range electric vehicles.
“The western companies have not done it. They either don’t believe this is an issue or they believe they are definitely going to get the batteries from China,” Glasenberg said.
“But what happens if that doesn’t occur and the Chinese say we are not going to export batteries, we are going to export electric vehicles. Where are the batteries going to come from?”
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