By on July 10, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

Practically every major manufacturer is touting electric cars as the future of automobiles. There’s good reason to believe them.

With few exceptions, automakers are aggressively pushing toward battery driven vehicles to meet ever more stringent regulatory demands. Several brands plan on fleet-wide electrification within a few years and a handful already snub internal combustion engines entirely. But there may be a massive problem on the horizon ready to handicap the greener future many of us were prepared to embrace.

Volkswagen, a company that has been promoting its own electric revolution in the wake of its diesel emission fiasco, is anticipating a serious lithium-ion battery shortage by 2025. Based on targets of achieving 25 percent of Volkswagen’s total volume from electric vehicles in 10 years, Ulrich Eichhorn, VW’s head of research and development, dramatically increased projections made 13 months ago.

Previous estimates from the company had the number set at 150 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

“We will need more than 200 gigawatt-hours,” Eichhorn stated on June 30th during a presentation at Volkswagen’s proving grounds north of Wolfsburg.

In June of 2016, CEO Matthias Mueller anticipated the need of sourcing batteries at an accelerated rate in order to meet projected demands. Yet it’s becoming less clear as to where those cells will be coming from.

According to Automotive News Europe, Volkswagen believes if every major manufacturer targeted a 25 percent of sales volume from battery-electric vehicles in 2025, the industry would need a supply of more than 1.5 terawatt-hours — an estimate which includes purely electric vehicles, hybrids, and mild hybrids. Producing an adequate supply to facilitate EV production would require more than 40 Tesla gigafactories worth of annual capacity, meaning the industry is going to have to get seriously busy in the next few years.

“That’s the demand we’ve extrapolated assuming other OEMs have a similar target,” said Volkswagen Group researcher Linda Brinkhaus.

In a recent tweet from managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores, responding to Volkswagen’s claim, there are 16 lithium-ion battery megafactories in the pipeline already — accounting for an estimated 232 gigawatt-hours. He surmises that the industry would need to throw another $5 billion at the problem to be in a more comfortable position by 2025.

While not every automaker has been quite as ambitious as Volkswagen with its EV volume goals as, practically every single automaker operating on a global level anticipates scaling up EV production in the years to come. But even more modest targets will require suppliers to come out of the woodwork to source enough batteries for manufacturers before 2025.

German supplier Bosch has been considering what to do about the problem for some time, but likely won’t make up its mind before 2018. “We are in the middle of development work. That means we are producing new results every week,” Bosch Mobility Solutions chief Rolf Bulander told Automotive News Europe last week.

Those results cannot come quickly enough. Constructing battery plants doesn’t happen overnight and, with cell technology advancing so swiftly, no supplier wants to rush into a costly endeavor only to find there was a superior solution right around the corner.

Many automakers, including Volkswagen, are looking at energy-dense cell technology that could alleviate some of the forthcoming volume needs. In the case of Volkswagen, engineers are considering lithium sulphur or lithium air chemistry to raise charge capacity, improve safety, and extend battery lifespan. But Eichhorn predicts it could be 15 years before either technology is commercially available.

Nevertheless, Volkswagen says it remains committed to its electrification goal of 25 percent by 2025, largely on ethical grounds. Eichhorn even posited an alternative history where the oil boom never happened and internal combustion engines never overtook battery-powered vehicles in the marketplace.

“If the technologies had been reversed, it would be hard to conceive an engineer now successfully proposing that combustion engines replace electric cars,” Eichhorn said. “Imagine that person would say, ‘Rather than having maximum torque available from the start like an electric car, it had to ramp up over time.’ Imagine he then said it involved a device where thousands of tiny explosions occur every minute using a toxic and highly flammable liquid that had to be stored in the vehicle somewhere. And then imagine him saying that this fuel came almost entirely from crisis regions. What do you think his boss might have said to him?”

He might mention that the majority of the electric current came from 20th century coal-fired power stations and noted the precious metals found in most batteries also came crisis regions. Then he would have asked him to shut-up and figure out a way to solve the upcoming battery supply problem before it ruined the company’s future plans.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

79 Comments on “Pending Battery Armageddon Ready to Doom Future EV Production...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Told you so.

    Lithium ion batteries don’t just come from a catalog, or materialize from mythical places. Real companies have to scale up production big time.

    Any talk of a serious competitor for Tesla’s future volume is just talk, without a real battery supplier ready to produce a lot of batteries. Even at current volumes, they’re consuming a huge percentage (40%?) of the world’s lithium battery power.

    The Gigafactory isn’t there just because Mr Musk likes big white buildings.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Another advantage of Gigafactory is close proximity to a US lithium mine in Nevada.

      Lithium: Mineral Found in Nevada Could Power Our Future
      https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2017-03-31/lithium-mineral-found-in-nevada-could-power-our-future

      There are lithium manufacturing process improvements coming that reduce the space needed for lithium battery manufacturing and shorten the time needed to make a battery. Then again, it means much more production capacity for the giga-factory.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      What you’re saying is that except for Tesla, there won’t be a boom in electric cars. That 1.5 terawatt hours of storage leads to the question of where the electricity will be generated, and what will it cost?

      The US produces about 4000 terawatt hours per year, or an average of 11 terawatts a day. Even assuming not all the electric cars are charged every day, there’s a major draw on electrical generation. Thanks to the switch from cheaper coal to more convenient but 50% more expensive (at best) natural gas, electricity bills are going up.

      Meanwhile, every time crude oil prices rise, shale ramps back up and knocks the price down. A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline contains 33.4 kWh of energy, so it might make more sense to find a way to put more of that energy to work than can be achieved with an ICE.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        The oil shale producers have completely changed the game. OPEC is all but irrelevant at this point, and they know it. Russia is being strangled. It also hurts Canada tar sands. I had written a couple of years back here for TTAC of thousands of wellheads ready to go online. The “last mile” (in metaphor) can be brought back online in as little as 3 days on these wells. You’re spot on, the minute the well can be profitable, it starts pumping, and the price goes down.

        Additionally, fraccing keeps getting cheaper. Some shale producers can turn a profit now into the $20s. This huge bump in production is also creating record amounts of natural gas. So much that it is being flared off because there is no place to store it, and last mile (metaphor) transport from the well is challenging. This has collapsed natural gas prices, which is killing coal. Power companies across the nation are mothballing or converting their coal-fired power plants because it isn’t economical to operate them. Many of these plants aren’t being decommissioned but kept in a state of readiness to deal with spikes in demand or national emergencies.

        When I worked in the power industry, coal-fired plants were required to keep 2-month supply of fuel onsite for national security reasons (not just war, but disruption in supply due to strike, weather, disaster, etc.)

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “So much that it is being flared off because there is no place to store it”

          Sounds like an excellent use of the earth’s resources.

          Gawd are we wasteful.

        • 0 avatar
          harish1973

          “OPEC is irrelevant”
          Good grief. Do I have to explain how the global oil market works, every time there is an EV article??
          Oil is a GLOBAL COMMODITY. If we didn’t import 1 single drop from the Middle East, do you seriously think we are no longer held hostage to events there? NO!
          If the Persian Gulf gets shut down due to a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran (or ISIS attacks, or the Taliban take over Pakistan and launch a nuke at the Straits of Hormuz), what will China, India, Japan, and Korea do? They still get their oil from the Persian Gulf, so what will they do when their supertankers can no longer pass through? They will come to Canada and the U.S. and outbid us for oil! Don’t you understand that?
          For a global commodity, the price is always set by the highest bidder. In the event of a Middle East crisis, those highest bidders will be in Beijing and Mumbai, not Boston or Memphis! You do realize U.S. drillers are allowed to sell their crude overseas, as are US refineries with gasoline and diesel, right? So the U.S. motorist gets screwed with higher prices (the global price) at the pump DESPITE NOT IMPORTING ONE DROP OF MIDDLE EAST OIL. Get it now? That’s why the 5th Fleet is in Bahrain and Central Command is in Qatar, right smack-dab in the MIDDLE of the Persian Gulf.
          Last I checked, there were no power cables under the Pacific or Atlantic oceans bringing in overseas electric power.
          EV’s = REAL Energy Independence

      • 0 avatar

        Coal being cheaper depends on where. Coal out west is still cheaper, but coal in the east is about the same as natural gas (they got all the easy stuff out here decades ago). Natural gas was cheaper then coal until November when it spiked. It’s been falling again and looks like it will be even with east coast coal again any day now.

        Also on that half the countries electric coming from coal not really. All the population centers on the coasts and even in places like Texas and FL are under 25% of their power coming from coal. Which means in 2016 only about 30% of power came from coal.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        1.5 terawatt hour capacity would be needed if each car drove its full range every day. If we assume full range is 200 miles and average owner goes 14,000 miles per year and we assume 350 days per year (I’m selecting these so I can do the estimates in my head) we have 40 miles per day or 1/5 of the range or 0.3 terrawats per day charging requirement or approximately 2.5% of current usage (assuming your 11 terawat per day is accurate). Does not seem too bad.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          I usually burn about 1 kWh per 4.5 miles. Today, with warmer weather, I’m getting about 5.1 to 5.2 miles per kWh in hilly terrain. I have a ten mile round trip errand to run in a couple of minutes and will burn about 2 kWh for the trip and the day.

        • 0 avatar
          harish1973

          You are confusing capacity with usage.
          1.5 Terawatt-hours is the cumulative storage capacity of the batteries that go into the cars.
          It has nothing to do with how much energy is used on a daily basis.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “What you’re saying is that except for Tesla, there won’t be a boom in electric cars.”

        I wouldn’t say that.

        It sure looks like Musk is in it to build and sell (lease?) the batteries. The cars were just what got him to this point.

        He’d make much more money licensing the battery tech to VW and Honda and Toyota, and providing the batteries and the supercharger infrastructure. Nobody who isn’t an established automaker makes any money building cars. He’d be better to get out of the business completely.

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatic

          Nobody has made much money selling stuff or licensing things to the Auto OEMs. They will play multiple suppliers against one another until each supplier is make a modest, but no more, amount of money.

      • 0 avatar

        How much electricity do we produce at night, keeping generators spinning in low demand periods, that just goes to ground?

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The answer to that, Ronnie, is less and less. With coal, it takes hours to start up and hours to shut down, so coal was always the base fuel, producing electricity 24/7.

          The switch to natural gas allows electrical plants to shut down and start up very quickly. The fuel is delivered continuously by pipeline while coal is delivered by railcar, requiring storage yards and infrastructure to feed into the boilers.

          Natural gas is more expensive on a per million BTU basis, but the need for people and machinery to bring the stockpiled coal to the boilers narrows that, and the flexibility over coal has won over generation companies.

          The upshot of all that is there’s less need to ‘keep the coal fires burning’ overnight as the industry switches to NatGas. There’s also less need for power companies to offer night time discounts to consume the excess electricity. Both are bad news for electric car residential users who pay the highest rates.

          • 0 avatar
            harish1973

            You are forgetting that wind turbines tend to spin the fastest at night
            (that is when the wind energy is strongest here in the Midwest)
            That energy will need to be sold at cheap rates overnight

            In Texas, the #1 wind state, TXU already offers free electric rates during nighttime hours.
            So if you’re driving an electric car in Texas you are driving for free. Think about that

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Yep, this. I mentioned this in the last article.

      Anyone who thinks Tesla hasn’t scored a big win by focusing – hard – on battery production for the last several years (and the factories to produce them) hasn’t been paying attention.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    On top of the factories, do we have mines available (or at least identified), and have environmentally safe/sustainable methods of extracting the materials necessary for manufacture of these batteries?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The Silver Peak lithium mine near Tonopah, Nevada 200 miles from the Tesla Gigafactory.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yes, and no. US Lithium reserves are estimated at 38,000 MT, which is a pittance. Chile, China, Argentina, and Australia have the largest Lithium reserves in the world and control over 90% of the supply. Chile is estimated to have over half of the world’s reserves alone, 7,500,000 MT.

        Lithium mining is tough work, takes massive amounts of ore to produce usable amounts of pure material. If electrification takes hold US reserves will be consumed – fast.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          US Lithium reserves are now estimated at 6,700,000 MT according to the USGS. I guess they found more somewhere. See the paragraph under World Resources:

          https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/lithium/mcs-2016-lithi.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            I think we’re both right mcs

            The same report indicates 38000 MT of reserves. I’m going to speculate the 6,700,000MT number is all possible Lithium, but that doesn’t mean it is easily mined with today’s technology.

            We similar numbers for oil. US total reserves are 36.4 billion barrels, but proven reserves are much less, 26.5 billion barrels.

            We may be sitting on a lot of Lithium, but 90% of mineable Lithium today is in just 4 countries. Fortunately 3 of the 4 are friendly to us.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Keep in mind all of those reports of amounts of lithium reserves are just estimates; until recently there’s been no pressing need to find every grain.

            Besides, it is possible for the lithium from batteries to be recovered… though most lithium batteries made up to now are in landfills scattered around the world and NOT going through “proper disposal” because nobody has bothered to make it easy to dispose of them “properly.”

        • 0 avatar
          SkiD666

          petrolithium may be the next big thing, if they can prove they can refine it cheap enough.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    TTAC is the Fox News of ev’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      EV adherents can get ahead of themselves, as well as ahead of the technology. Somebody has to point out the pitfalls before EV fans push government and/or industry into a course of action before all the pitfalls are identified and remediated.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Do you actually think the car manufacturers are so dumb they didn’t think of the issue of materials for batteries, or know of problems reputed to be so serious but are pressing ahead anyway?

        Did you buy into the myth that hybrid batteries would have to be replaced every few years at $8000 per pop? That myth was repeated over and over here on ttac. And still is, for that matter.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Do you actually think that government officials are so smart as to think about the issue of battery raw materials before they mandate a big ramp-up in zero emission vehicles?

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Do you hear the manufacturers proving to government that battery production will fall disastrously short? You’d think they would exploit such low-hanging fruit.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            There are government documents out there with estimates of lithium reserves worldwide and estimates of demand.

            The batteries are recyclable so when they are depleted, the lithium can be recovered from them.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Because the batteries are called “lithium” batteries people get the impression they are mostly lithium. In fact there is relatively little lithium in them. Planet earth has lots of lithium. As mcs said, it can be recycled so at some point you don’t need much more.

            There are other metals in lithium batteries, each with supply aspects. Like cobalt. Or if Canada suddenly decides to stop selling nickel to the US. Likely?

            And this is just one battery chemistry.

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            That’s actually “remote emission vehicles”.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Volvo: “That’s actually “remote emission vehicles”.”

            Remote emissions are actually relative and diminishing. Did you read the article?

            And how are the emissions from gas cars not just as “remote”, in their greater amounts? Air and cars both move around.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “TTAC is the Fox News of ev’s.”

      Fair and balanced reporting, then?

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Who says all future EV batteries must depend on lithium? For example, see the following from earlier this year:

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6336/415

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Maybe they won’t depend on lithium, but you still need a factory to produce batteries.

      As for the technology itself, the moonshot battery is always five years away.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        One new technology I know of estimated 5 years to go from lab to mass production. They’re in pilot production now, but last I checked they still estimate another 3 years to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Lithium-ion battery tech characteristics are proven, the nickel-zinc concept is still in the lab, and the benefits unproven. We already have nickel-cadmium rehargeable batteries but L-i storage density and charge-recharge cycle are superior. Nickel-zinc has to at least match those characteristics, and the manufacturing process needs to be worked out. It may be just what is needed, but the payoff may be too far down the road, maybe even farther than a politician can kick a can.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Toyota just got a fresh new patent on solid state lithium technology this spring which coincided with a renewed interest in EVs. They have the muscle to put it into production relatively quickly.

        There are other advances to lithium-ion in the pipeline including major manufacturing process improvements. Still, it takes years, but we should see many of these new lithium technologies emerge in the mid 2020’s.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    And now we see why Tesla has been pushing to build to that battery production rate long before anyone else even considered it.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      They’ve also been nailing down sources for lithium with contracts for future production. By doing so, they insulated themselves from the price increases as well.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    1.21 gigawatts?!?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Practically every major manufacturer is touting electric cars as the future of automobiles.”

    It’s mostly political posturing to keep the regulators happy.

    As I’ve said all along, EVs don’t scale up well, so you can forget about seeing practical, reasonably-priced electric pickup trucks, SUVs, larger sedans or minivans any time soon.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      harish1973

      Absolute BS. The problem is that you assume all EVs won’t have gas engines as backup power. You need to read the article again. When VW said “25% EV”, they were including standard and plug-in hybrids.
      You seem to lack imagination: we are only a few years away from dipping below $100/kWh for automotive-grade Li-Ion cells (GM reportedly paid $135/kWh for the Chevy Bolt). Add in a 25% markup for assembling the cells into a pack, and let’s say $125/kWh.
      A 16 kWh pack will cost $2000. It’s eligible for a $7500 tax credit. The price premium for rest of the hybrid components will be around $2000. So, a PHEV w./ 16 kWh battery will cost $3500 LESS than comparable gasoline-only vehicle – but still have just as much range and horsepower (and the ability to refuel in 5 minutes).
      Do you have any idea what a 16 kWh battery can do? Using just 60% capacity (to prolong life), that’s enough to give even the biggest pickup trucks, SUV’s and minivans 20 miles/day of EV-only range. In other words half the miles driven annually can be covered by electricity, if plugged in daily.
      Since electricity is at least 1/3 (or less) than $2 gas, that’s basically knocking 1/3 off your annual fuel bill.
      Even at $2/gallon, an EcoBoost F-150 costs $1500/yr @ 15k miles/year.
      SO – that would be a savings of $500/yr…..even when the tax credit expires, the $4000 PHEV price premium would take eight years to pay back with gas at only $2gallon….less the more they go up over $2 (and/or the more miles you drive and the frequency of plugging in). And that’s before I even include the savings from less maintenance with regard to brakes and oil changes etc.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Worried about lithium supplies? How about aluminum and copper because all that fast charging capability is going to require very thick cabling networks all over the world. I don’t think anyone has any idea what the large scale conversion to electric vehicles will require in terms of mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, and transport – and what the environmental impact will be.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Same could be said about gas. Remember electric cars were actually way more popular at first (the 1900s) but vanished 10 years later as roads became longer making the range of gas far superior. Back then nobody had the infrastructure or environment in mind.

      I believe necessity is the mother of invention here and someone will figure it out. However very long term thinking I guess it comes down to how recyclable lithium is. Can we grind up old batteries to make new batteries? If not at some point we will be talking about peak lithium. Instead of debating drilling locations we will be debating where to mine. Battery tech is about the most important area of exploration right now. From phones to cars storing and recharging energy as efficiently as possible is quickly becoming paramount.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Yeah, we’re sort of becoming a lithium battery based economy. IoT devices too. They’re sticking lithium batteries in everything it seems.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        The difference between now and then is that today you can’t open a mine or build a new plant, or string new power grid wires without going through 10 years of “environmental impact studies”, nuisance NIMBY lawsuits, OSHA requirements, union demands, and whatever other regulatory hell pertains or might pertain to your efforts. The US built Hoover dam in 5 years, the Golden Gate Bridge in 4 years, and the Empire State Building in 1.5 years, but you can’t even repave an existing road with that sort of speed these days due to all the roadblocks to improvements that have been put in place.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @singray: “he Golden Gate Bridge in 4 years, ”

          That was just the construction. The planning and process part you’re whining about took much longer. Today, once a project is approved, actual construction doesn’t take any longer. OSHA Requirements? Oh yeah, let’s not care about worker safety.

          I live in a heavily protected area and we seem to have no problems getting roads repaved.

          The mine in Tonapah seems to be ramping up without a problem – not many issues out in the desert. I don’t know about other locations. In Sonora Mexico, there are about 4.5 million MT and that’s moving along well too. Probably about 11 million metric tons identified in southwest North America so far.

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            MCS – so you are saying things get done faster today and all of today’s “modern” regulations and other requirements help rather than hinder new developments? What planet are you living on, because that utopia sounds much better than the earth I live on.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Stingray65: “MCS – so you are saying things get done faster today and all of today’s “modern” regulations and other requirements help rather than hinder new developments? What planet are you living on, because that utopia sounds much better than the earth I live on.”

            This reminds me of logging and mining regulations. Loggers and miners kept finding ways around the regulations to leave messes despite current regulations. New regulations had to be created to deal with the new ways the companies made messes. The regulations came to be quite extensive because the loggers and miners kept finding ways to get around the regulations and leave messes. Then the loggers and miners complained about the “regulatory burden”.

            So the gummint got rid of the regulations and told them to police themselves and stop making messes. The loggers and miners just happily kept making messes.

            Presuming that some level of messes exceeds your tolerance level, and presuming that companies would prefer to exceed that limit, how would you deal with the situation?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Stingray:

            The Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building and Hoover Dam all had one thing in common: they were built during the Great Depression. That made the labor dirt cheap, allowing the contractors to hire more workers. And there was the matter of worker safety. Literally hundreds of men died building these projects.

            Five men died building the Empire State Building. By comparison, only two men died building the new WTC tower in New York, despite the newer building taking far longer to build, and being far taller.

            It’s a lot easier to build large projects quickly when you have a small army of men working on them, and safety isn’t a priority.

            The Good Old Days weren’t always good, you know?

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          @Stingray65

          And there are things you aren’t even allowed to do anymore, like spray ddt all over the place. What a great pity!

          How much do you value clean surroundings and safe structures? Do you think people should be paid well enough for safe work that they can afford to buy things?

          Should nanotechnology, human gene splicing and gmo be implemented without pausing to figure out and consider the consequences?

          While we should not overly deny ourselves the benefits of technology, “full speed ahead” is associated with more than a few mishaps.

          You sound like a far right libertarian. What do you think of the Koch brothers?

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            I’m all for regulation that passes some reasonable cost-benefit analysis, but the key point is that all the highly aggressive EV mandates and projections are highly dependent on very fast and large scale build up of charging infrastructure and battery manufacturing capabilities, and such speed is just not possible with today’s regulations that were not present when the automobile and oil industries were in their growth period 100 years ago. Add in the uncertainties regarding the “right” battery technology will further slow EV deployment.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        JmII: “I guess it comes down to how recyclable lithium is. Can we grind up old batteries to make new batteries? If not at some point we will be talking about peak lithium.”

        The lithium in batteries is very recyclable. 100%, if I am not mistaken.

        But it is still much cheaper to get new lithium. Partly because as is the case with most raw materials, major extraction and processing costs are externalized (not paid). And partly because the demand for lithium is so low that prices have not been driven up as high as the cost to recycle it.

        Probably there will be no peak lithium, because at some point the stuff available from recycling will meet demand.

        Note that this is radically different from oil burned as fuel, which is 0% recyclable. So in terms of peaking, the situation could not be more different. Literally.

        • 0 avatar
          raffi14

          Any discussion of lithium supplies with regards to batteries is a sign people don’t know what they’re talking about. Lithium is like the salt on the salad in these batteries, they’re primarily made of nickle, cobalt, aluminum in a steel shell. Also Lithium can be found virtually everywhere, we could pull it out of seawater if the need was there. The world just doesn’t use very much of it, so there are only a few mines.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Stingray65: “Worried about lithium supplies? How about aluminum and copper because all that fast charging capability is going to require very thick cabling networks all over the world.”

      The developed world is already pretty well wired up. Grids, you know. Etc.

      Electric cars are charged mostly at night, when most people are asleep and not using electricity or driving.

      This is pretty fundamental stuff for anyone to have wrong.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It appears to many are placing too much faith in the GigaFactory.

    Don’t forget the article is not about manufacturing potential, but resource supply.

    All will be vying for a limited resource. Irrespective of who manufactures the batteries 70%+ of the battery cost is the minerals.

    Production costs as a value added component is small.

    There are the Chinese who will force the GigaFactory to compete with the tiniest of margins, or even a loss.

    I did put forward a great link a couple of years ago about this very problem.

  • avatar
    markogts

    Lithium is not the limiting factor for battery production. There is about 7% weight of lithium in a battery. What counts is cobalt and manganese.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      And even a smaller precentage of the cost.

      Funny how the same people who gloat about how the current surplus of oil debases the notion of peak oil, then talk up the notion on peak lithium out of the other side of their mouths.

      • 0 avatar
        harish1973

        It is also funny how the same people who complain about coal miners being put out of work complain about EV’s getting their power from….coal.

        It is also interesting how the people that complain the most about “radical Islamic terrorism” tend to drive the biggest pickup trucks, that use the most fuel; half the gas in their gas tank came from overseas, thereby raising the global price of oil and helping to finance…….radical Islamic terrorism.

        And it is peculiar that the same people who complain about EV’s being powered by “remote fossil fuel plants” don’t seem to understand or acknowledge the benefit of shifting respiratory-harming pollution AWAY from crowded urban areas

  • avatar
    islander800

    Lithium ion batteries are incredibly dangerous. Imagine pitching a new energy source which, when exposed to air, spontaneously combusts? That’s a lithium ion battery. Don’t try and cut one open, kids, because you WILL get burned.

    My bet is that lithium ion technology will be a short-lived solution to the storage problem, due as much to its unstable properties as to shortages of raw materials. By the mid-20s, new, more benign batteries will make the move from the lab to production.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Interesting. Any links to what is being proposed to replace lithium ion batteries, by chance?

      I’m always ready to geek up on new tech.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      islander – I agree that lithium is unlikely to be the dominant battery technology going forward due to its many limitations, but the problem always seems to be that the next big thing is always 10 years away, and typically 10 years from now they are still 10 years away. Conversely, predictions that we will run out of oil, copper, uranium, lithium, etc. in 10 years are also common, but has yet to happen as we keep finding more of the stuff and use what we find more efficiently.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        ” technology going forward due to its many limitations, but the problem always seems to be that the next big thing is always 10 years away, and typically 10 years from now they are still 10 years away.”

        Sometimes. Space cities and flying cars are behind schedule for sure.

        But does the pace and influence of digital technology not impress you?

        Incidentally, battery development so far probably has been driven more by the need to power digital devices than electric cars.

        We didn’t run out of rocks and chamber pots either.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      @islander800
      A point worth mentioning. I would rather live near lithium batteries than stored hydrogen though.

      As for gas it may or may not be as immediately dangerous as lithium batteries, but it is a small contribution toward the efforts (transportation electrification) to head off vastly bigger disasters in the form of global warming.

      On which subject here is the latest and most frightening take:
      http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Lithium ion batteries are incredibly dangerous.”

      This is an old, tired argument.

      Gasoline explodes, spraying its victims with flaming liquid. Lithium ion batteries burn intensely, but they give the car’s occupants time to escape.

      Most of the handful of EV fires I’m aware of have resulted from a high-speed impact that breached the battery armor. I’ll take my chances with lithium ion any day.

      By the way, did you know you can drive an EV through standing water puddles?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Again, there are 33.4 kWh of energy in a gallon or regular. How much of that energy is used in an internal combustion engine? Is there another way to get that energy -work- out of that gallon than an ICE? After all, a Tesla 85 kWh battery holds less than three gallons worth of gasoline energy. find a better way to put that energy in a gallon of regular to work, and you won’t need batteries, or power plants burning coal or natgas to charge them.

    • 0 avatar
      harish1973

      It’s not about getting the energy out of the gallon of gasoline; it’s about doing so without having any tailpipe emissions

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Good point. But even if you could burn gas 100% cleanly, there is still all the heat; plus the pollution resulting from getting the gas to your tank: Finding, extracting, transporting, refining, and transporting again.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Think about what you just said, Lorenzo. ” After all, a Tesla 85 kWh battery holds less than three gallons worth of gasoline energy.” Three gallons worth of energy, that goes over 250 miles or the equivalent of 83mpg when the BEST ICE hybrid can only reach 50mpg with battery support, so far. And you can’t really consider the PHEVs because they are basically BEVs with a gas-powered range extender maybe good for about 50mpg from a tiny tank but then has to be recharged anyway or you’re stopping for gas every hundred miles or so.

      We’ve got the internal combustion engine down just about as efficient as we can get it. A pure turbine might improve on it but how many of us remember the Chrysler Turbine Car of the mid-60s? The one drawback was the extreme heat of the exhaust which really cannot be effectively cooled down and demonstrates just another waste of energy. Quite literally, moving the ‘burn’ to a remote site like a power plant offers the greatest overall efficiency, as demonstrated by those natural gas plants where they can work with a dual hybrid system of gas turbine generators beside steam generators, using more of the energy that would otherwise be wasted. (If they aren’t doing something like that, they should. Even a 10% increase in efficiency through such means would mean a lot.)

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    I’ve been saying this for YEARS and always got poo-pooed for being some kind of anti-environment cynic… and lo-and-behold, I’M RIGHT. Go figure.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • JMII: Correct – its the default, general corporate mindset. Decisions are made top down. Personal justification...
  • tomLU86: Excellent summary of FoMoCo leadership. Sad commentary on the Ford family, from found Ford, who despite his...
  • gtem: If you can’t appreciate the ergonomics, tactile quality and design of the older Hondas and how they were...
  • FreedMike: Or our Aviator, which has trim pieces that fall off. I’m not happy at all about what I see from Ford...
  • FreedMike: Was it a post-’14 model, by chance? I’ve had a ’15 and a ’12 as rentals, and the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States