Roland Berger forecasts that there will be a shortage of essential raw materials for electric vehicles in the years to come. In an interview with Automobilwoche, Senior Partner Wolfgang Bernhart discussed examining supply networks.
The experts predict that there will be a continued shortage of lithium up until the end of the decade. In 2025, there will be no large volumes coming from Europe. After that, more deposits will progressively develop in the region.
Nickel demand depends on battery demand and the chosen cell chemistry (NCM versus LFP) - "and in particular on steel demand and there in particular on the Chinese construction sector." While lithium demand is dominated by battery demand, nickel demand depends on battery demand and the chosen cell chemistry. Because of this, the forecast is more complicated. In any event, it will be challenging to obtain sufficient nickel goods that are manufactured sustainably. In theory, there is adequate nickel available around the globe; but the quality levels that would make it simple to employ in battery production still need to be included.
The availability of cobalt is described as being actually very rare. Even if it is accessible in substantial quantities in the soil, many of the sources discovered up until this point do not meet the criteria necessary for its sustainability. It is common for them to be open-pit mines, which are known for their high levels of environmental contamination, and the safety of the extraction sites is often called into question. "The fingers should be allowed to rest on this."
Regarding graphite, the entire demand relies heavily on the amount of silicon present in the anode of a battery. For the time being, synthetic and natural graphite supplies come primarily from China. This holds true for both types of graphite. Recent news brought about the announcement of the first giant factory in the United States, but Europe also requires its own graphite manufacturing.
When it comes to copper, the market will require at least five million tons more by the year 2030 than the 25 million tons currently mined every year because the metal is needed not just for the electric motors used in the automotive industry but also for charging stations, wind turbines, and many other things. In general, the development of brand-new copper projects is a laborious and time-consuming endeavor. According to Wolfgang Bernhart, "Our opinion is that, as a result, recycling will play an even more significant role than it presently does with copper."
According to the explanation provided by the specialist, the importance of the automobile industry's ability to recycle raw materials from obsolete products "can hardly be underestimated." This is because a brand-new battery gigafactory has a reject rate of nearly thirty percent in its early days of operation. Because of the low number of batteries, electric motors, and other potential components that are now being returned to the cycle, recycling vehicles that have reached the end of their useful lives is not a particularly pressing concern soon. However, the consultants are anticipating a rapid growth in the number of recycling circuits, virtually at the same time as an increase in the use of electric vehicles.