Race to break China’s lithium stranglehold heats up – by Michael Smith (Australian Financial Review – October 30, 2023)


China’s dominance of the EV supply chain has raised global fears of a new trade war, as tensions between Beijing and Washington intensify over critical minerals.

Rows of multicoloured electric vehicles built by China’s BYD are the star attraction in Singapore’s Suntec City shopping mall. The glitzy showroom featuring discounted “Surf Blue” or “Parkour Red” Atto 3 model cars is often packed with customers – a reminder of China’s dominance of the electric vehicle market in Asia, and increasingly the world.

Further upstream, national champion CATL has quickly become the global leader in battery-making for EVs, powering one in three on the road worldwide today. The company and Shenzhen-based BYD have raced ahead of rivals in South Korea and Japan, leaving the US and Europe contemplating how to stoke an electric car industry without relying on China for the most important and costly piece of the puzzle.

Emerging technologies such as sodium-ion and solid-state batteries offer some hope of breaking China’s stranglehold on the industry. In the meantime, however, Europe and the US are focused on securing supplies of battery metals such as lithium to feed their own nascent battery-making industries.

“They are a massive player in the EV space so much so that this could be the next major protectionist issue,” Khoon Goh, ANZ’s head of Asia Research tells The Australian Financial Review.

For the rest of this article: https://www.afr.com/world/asia/race-to-break-china-s-lithium-stranglehold-heats-up-20231002-p5e96y