BEIJING/MELBOURNE, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Rare discounts offered by Chinese battery giant CATL (300750.SZ) to automakers have accelerated a plunge in lithium prices, and the market is set to drop a further 25% with supply growth outpacing demand, analysts and traders say.
After a frenzied rush by electric vehicle makers to secure raw materials over the past two years, which drove prices for lithium carbonate up more than six-fold and spodumene up nearly ten-fold, the bubble has burst.
“Supply is coming on stream faster than you can say ‘boo’,” said analyst Dylan Kelly of Ord Minnett in Sydney. “Demand remains strong but prices have been unsustainable for some time now.”
The turning point for lithium prices came late last year as electric vehicle demand in China slowed sharply ahead of Beijing’s planned halt to subsidies for the $87 billion industry, the world’s biggest and fastest growing.