Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

Electric Car Makers Have an Africa Problem – by Leonid Bershidsky (Bloomberg News – October 17, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Automakers find it hard to lock in the price of cobalt for batteries.

Volkswagen’s recent failure to lock in the price of cobalt for five years points to a serious problem with the optimistic projections of an electric vehicle revolution. These projections are based on gradually declining battery prices, but the scarcity of certain minerals and their concentration in politically unstable countries may interfere with that dynamic.

The high price of batteries necessary for a solid EV range is the biggest reason EVs now need government subsidies to sell in noticeable quantities. In a recent paper, Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s MOBI Research Group projected, however, that the price will fall to $100 per kilowatt-hour from the current $432 sometime between 2020 and 2025.

If that happens, electric mobility without much “range anxiety” (the worry your battery will run out en route) will be within the reach of most people who can buy a gasoline-powered car today. Continue Reading →

Electric cars driving BHP’s nickel dream – by Paul Garvey (The Australian – October 18, 2017)

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

BHP has flagged it could double down on its foray into supplying nickel chemicals to the growing electric vehicle market as it looks to capitalise on the “new energy revolution”.

The head of BHP’s resurgent Nickel West nickel division, Eddy Haegel, told The Australian Nickel Conference in Perth yesterday that the company was looking to bring forward stage two of its proposed nickel sulphate processing plant at its Kwinana refinery after being inundated with inquiries from the world’s biggest battery manufacturers.

He also revealed the company was investigating the economic and technical feasibility of moving even further downstream with the potential development of a cathode precursor plant at Kwinana. “The new energy revolution is coming and it will be very good news for our local nickel industry,” Mr Haegel said. Continue Reading →

Dictator-Era Rules Stand Between Carmakers and Lithium Riches – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – October 17, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

A little-known nuclear agency, designated as Chile’s lithium watchdog 38 years ago during the military dictatorship, holds the keys to unlocking the country’s massive reserves amid a nascent electric-car boom.

The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission, or CCHEN by its Spanish initials, authorizes lithium quotas and exports in a throwback to a 1979 decision to declare lithium “strategic” because it was thought to be a key element in nuclear processes.

While that’s no longer the case, the government has no plans to remove CCHEN from lithium permitting even as authorities work on a new code for an industry struggling to keep up with growing demand from rechargeable batteries. More investor-friendly rules in Argentina have lured some interest away from Chile. Continue Reading →

As race for energy metals heats up, nickel expected to benefit most from EV revolution – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – October 13, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Nickel prices stand most to gain from the advent of electric vehicles (EVs), Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) said on Friday in its latest ‘Global Metals Weekly’ report.

According to the research team, despite China remaining an important driver of market demand, following on from being the secular demand driver for metals in the past decade, a push to make economies greener has given rise to structural demand increases from a range of sectors.

“EVs have been a focal point of late and copper (batteries, wiring, charging infrastructure), lithium (batteries), cobalt (batteries) and nickel (batteries) should all benefit. While we are bullish copper in the medium term, EVs are unlikely to be sufficient, on their own, to drive a sustained bull market. Continue Reading →

VW fails to secure long-term cobalt supply for electric vehicles – by Henry Sanderson and Neil Hume (Financial Times – October 15, 2017)

https://www.ft.com/

An attempt by one of the world’s biggest carmakers to secure long-term supplies of cobalt for its push into electric vehicles has been shunned by leading producers of the metal.

Volkswagen issued a tender last month seeking a minimum of five years of supply at a fixed price, according to people familiar with the process, but struggled to find any takers.

The carmaker put off miners by suggesting a price that was well below current market prices, which have jumped by more than 80 per cent this year, the people said. “They’re being arrogant because they’re automotive and they’re used to doing it,” one trader said. “They completely misjudged the contents of the tender. There’s no point negotiating — it’s not even a discussion point.” Continue Reading →

The Supply Chain Can’t Handle Skyrocketing Demand for Lithium-Ion Batteries – by Louise Matsakis (Motherboard/Vice – October 11, 2017)

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/

Less than 1 percent of cars worldwide run electric, but they’re increasingly gobbling up Earth’s lithium-ion battery supply. Almost half of these batteries are used in the automotive industry, according to a new a analysis published Wednesday in Joule, the sister journal to Cell that addresses sustainable energy.

The study argues that the world needs to start preparing for an influx of demand for these batteries, which are used in smartphones, electric cars, and off-grid systems, like Tesla’s Powerwall.

“Even before [the lithium-ion battery industry] went into these large sectors like automotive and grid it was growing at like a 20 percent growth rate,” Gerbrand Ceder, one of the study’s authors and a professor of materials science & engineering at the University of California, Berkeley told me over the phone. Continue Reading →

Why the ‘e’ in e-car actually stands for evil – by Lawrence Solomon (Financial Post – October 6, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

Electric vehicles are for city folk. For most rural residents, their role is to give, give, give

Electric cars, the vehicles of choice for the virtue signallers among us, epitomize the confusions and the divisions in society. These vehicles aren’t environmental exemplars, as their touters claim. And they of course aren’t economic. They excel in one area above all: in exploiting rural regions and their inhabitants, mostly for the benefit of affluent urbanites.

Electric vehicles — now a trivial proportion of cars on the road — do benefit the urban environments in which they operate, by limiting harmful vehicular emissions such as NOx, SOx and ground-level ozone.

If electric vehicles ever obtained a broader market, that urban benefit would increase. But it would come at a much greater cost to the rural environment, which electric-vehicle proponents would seek to sacrifice to provide the cities with electricity for charging. Continue Reading →

Cobalt’s Chemistry Experiment – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – September 28, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

All batteries are not created equal. The 53 kilowatt-hour pack on a 2008 Tesla Inc. Roadster contains an estimated 38 kilograms of cobalt, a key element that some analysts fear may be running out. The same-sized battery on a 2017 Tesla would have about one-eighth of that, or 4.8 kilograms.

That’s the best reason to be wary of predictions that cobalt is heading toward permanently higher prices north of $100,000 a metric ton. The complex chemistry on which rechargeable batteries depends offers myriad opportunities to economize on any material that gets too costly.

Cobalt is a crucial ingredient for manufacturing most lithium-ion cathodes — the “positive” ends of the cell, equivalent to the nipple atop a conventional AAA battery. Demand for such cathodes is set to soar as the world’s vehicle fleet shifts from petroleum to electrical drive-trains, and as utilities build farms of rechargeable batteries to stabilize renewables-intensive power grids. Continue Reading →

Peak Lithium? Not So Fast – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – September 28, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Does the world have enough lithium? It depends who you ask.A 2008 study by French researcher William Tahil found there were just 3.9 million metric tons of recoverable deposits globally in mineral ores and Andean salt lakes.

That’s little enough that the world would risk running out as demand for lithium-ion car batteries and utility-scale storage ramps up over the coming decades.

A survey the following year by consultants Gerry Clarke and Peter Harben, though, concluded there was about 10 times that amount. Depending on the other parameters applied, those numbers suggest deposits could provide lithium for anything from a further 100 million cars — about 10 percent of the global auto fleet — to 10 billion or more. Continue Reading →

James Dyson to invest £2.5bn on ‘radically different’ electric car – by Gwyn Topham (The Guardian – September 26, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

British inventor Sir James Dyson has announced plans to build an electric car that will be “radically different” from current models and go on sale in 2020. The billionaire who revolutionised the vacuum cleaner said 400 engineers in Wiltshire had been working since 2015 on the £2.5bn project.

No prototype has yet been built, but Dyson said the car’s electric motor was ready, while two different battery types were under development that he claimed were already more efficient than in existing electric cars.

Dyson said consumers would have to “wait and see” what the car would look like: “We don’t have an existing chassis … We’re starting from scratch. What we’re doing is quite radical.” However, he said the design was “all about the technology” and warned that it would be an expensive vehicle to purchase. While he did not name a price, he said: “Maybe the better figure is how much of a deposit they would be prepared to put down.” Continue Reading →

Electric vehicles trigger search for lithium and cobalt – by Chris Tomlinson (Houston Chronicle – September 27, 2017)

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/

Automakers this summer touted plans to offer more electric vehicles, with Mercedes-Benz announcing it will spend $1 billion to add a battery factory to its plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Ford is investing $4.5 billion in electric vehicle production, Volkswagen has promised 30 electrified models, and Volvo plans to go all electric or hybrid by 2019. Even Porsche will offer a battery-powered sports sedan called Mission E in 2020.

Automakers expect to sell 20 million all-electric vehicles in 2030, according to conservative estimates, prompting questions about where the raw materials will come from to make all of those batteries. Continue Reading →

BHP, world’s largest miner, says 2017 is ‘tipping point’ for electric cars – by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Gavin Maguire (Reuters U.S. – September 26, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – This year looks set to be the “tipping point” for electric cars, Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer at global miner BHP (BLT.L) said on Tuesday, with the impact for raw materials producers to be felt first in the metals market, and only later in oil.

“In September 2016 we published a blog and we set the question – could 2017 be the year of the electric vehicle revolution?” said Balhuizen, a company veteran who runs BHP’s commercial strategy, procurement and marketing from Singapore. “The answer is yes…2017 is the revolution year we have been speaking about. And copper is the metal of the future.”

Europe has begun a dramatic shift away from the internal combustion engine, although, globally, there are only roughly 1 million electric cars out of a global fleet of closer to 1.1 billion. BHP forecasts that could rise to 140 million vehicles by 2035, a forecast it says is on ‘the greener’ end. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: VW moves to secure cobalt supplies in shift to electric cars – by Pratima Desai (Reuters U.S. – September 22, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Germany’s Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is moving to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a vital component of rechargeable batteries, as the group accelerates its ambitious shift to electric cars. Cobalt industry sources told Reuters that VW, the world’s largest automaker, has asked producers to submit proposals on supplying the material for up to 10 years from 2019.

Volkswagen, which decided on the strategic shift to electric vehicles (EVs) after it was engulfed in the “dieselgate” scandal, plans to invest more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in zero-emission vehicles by 2030 to challenge pioneer Tesla in creating a mass market.

The company, which aims to make up to three million EVs a year by 2025, wants all the cobalt tender proposals submitted by the end of September. “The tender doesn’t actually tell you how much cobalt they want. They tell you how many EVs they want to make, you have to work out the cobalt content yourself,” one cobalt industry source said. Continue Reading →

Russian Nuclear Giant Joins Scramble to Supply Electric-Car Boom – by Jack Farchy and Elena Mazneva (Bloomberg News – September 19, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation is joining the lithium rush. After a collapse in the price of uranium, Rosatom Corp. plans to start mining and trading the metal used in batteries as it seeks to profit from the rapid rise of electric vehicles.

“The evolution of the car business is going much faster than predicted,” Kirill Komarov, the company’s first deputy head, said in an interview. “We plan to accumulate the whole integrated line of everything starting from lithium and up to final batteries or even some cooperation with car producers.”

Rosatom is the latest company to join a global scramble for lithium projects to supply growing demand for batteries used in electric cars such as Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 and General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt. Continue Reading →

BlackRock fund bets big on electric future for lithium – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – September 15, 2017)

https://www.ft.com/

BlackRock has emerged as a big backer of lithium start-ups, as the world’s largest asset manager bets on the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

The BlackRock World Mining Trust, which has more than £800m in assets and is co-managed by Evy Hambro, has become the largest shareholder in a handful of small mining companies aiming to produce lithium for use in batteries.

Demand for lithium has surged as the first mass-market electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt attract buyers. Growing demand for EVs has sparked a scramble to locate new supplies of lithium and prices have jumped about 26 per cent this year, making it one of the best performing commodities. Continue Reading →