Automakers must work closer with lithium producers to guarantee supply of specialized types of the white metal that boost an electric vehicle’s range and performance, Albemarle Corp and Livent Corp executives told Reuters.
As EVs go mainstream, automakers are planning models that can run longer before recharging and handle different weather conditions. Batteries for such EVs typically are made with a type of lithium known as hydroxide that cannot be stored for long periods of time and thus must be made in custom batches.
As such, producing it requires extensive investment and planning, which lithium producers are hesitant to do even as prices rise unless automakers sign long-term contracts and share development plans, Albemarle lithium division head Eric Norris and Livent Chief Executive Paul Graves said on a Reuters Next panel.
“It’s very important that we have the kind of relationship and transparency with (automakers) in order to not put them in a situation where they don’t have the product available that they need,” said Norris, who joined Albemarle in 2018.