The EV Battery Supply Chain & Pricing — Lithium, Nickel, & Cobalt Trends (Part 1)

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In the first half of this CleanTech Talk podcast interview, CleanTechnica CEO Zach Shahan sits down with Caspar Rawles, Head of Price Assessments at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, to discuss the battery supply chain. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summarization of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion. [Editor’s note: I have no idea what happened to my mic/audio on this podcast. It was the same setup as I used for the green hydrogen podcast. But I will try to identify and avoid the issue in future podcasts. —Zach]

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Zach launches this episode by declaring this decade to be the decade of batteries (and autonomous vehicles) in the automotive industry. To start off the conversation, he then brings up last year’s Tesla Battery Day and asks Caspar for his overall thoughts on the announcements made there. Caspar believes the event was a huge moment for the industry, especially considering Tesla’s announcement that the company would make its own batteries and produce its own lithium. You can check out some of the company’s initial highlights here, and a more detailed analysis of Battery Day by Caspar and his coworkers here.

While Caspar is skeptical of Tesla being able to produce its own battery-grade lithium out of clay deposits at a competitive cost, Caspar is interested to see how they plan to tackle what he believes to be an extremely challenging endeavor.

Zach and Caspar open the conversation up to more broadly talk about the lithium industry’s future. With demand for lithium rising quickly, Caspar foresees increasing lithium prices and a tightening supply that could potentially turn into a deficit. He notes that long-term supply deals are already beginning to be locked up between automakers and lithium producers in China. Nearly every government is looking to push localized lithium supply, he says.

In terms of supply outlook, Caspar predicts a deficit in lithium supplies within the next 12–18 months. Without investment into the supply chain, he explains, it is unlikely supply will be able to keep up with where demand is heading. Zach and Caspar talk through some of the challenges for different companies and trends they see in terms of lithium supply contracts and price volatility. They wrap up this first half of the podcast beginning the transition into talking about nickel.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the show! And stay tuned for part two.

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