Electric cars: there is so little lithium that Elon Musk is thinking of getting some on his own

Voitures électriques : il y a si peu de lithium qu'Elon Musk pense à aller en chercher lui-même

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News material Electric cars: there is so little lithium that Elon Musk is thinking of getting some on his own

Information may make you smile, but it’s not that trivial. While electric car sales are racing around the world, the price of lithium has skyrocketed in recent years. To cope with this rise in prices, the big manufacturers, with Tesla at the top, are seeking to control the exploitation of this rare and valuable mineral.

The price of lithium has increased fivefold in one year

If the car industry is doing so well right now, it owes a lot to hybrid or electric vehicles, which continue to see their sales go up from quarter to quarter. While almost all brands have their own models there, the patron saint of the electric car apparently remains Elon Musk with Tesla’s company.

Between SpaceX, Tesla, Twitter and the return of the Hyperloop project, we feel like things are puffing on the head of the richest man on the planet. And among all his more or less eccentric works that emerge daily from his mind, there is a very serious one that keeps coming, that of extracting himself or at least creating a company to make it, lithium, a mineral like rare as it is essential for the proper operation of electric cars.

The reason for this remark is quite simple, demand has outstripped supply and prices have literally skyrocketed. In a year and a half, the price of a ton of lithium has almost increased fivefold, from $ 17,000 per tonne to more than $ 78,000. However, according to Elon Musk, the Earth would be full of lithium, you just have to bend down to pick it up. The problem stems from the lack of operators and not from the hardware itself.

The price of lithium has reached crazy levels! Tesla may actually need to start direct mining and large-scale refining unless costs improve. There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is found almost everywhere on Earth, but the rate of extraction / refining is slow.

Exploitation of lithium, a dangerous practice for the environment and biodiversity

In fact, Elon Musk’s idea to export lithium himself is not new. As early as 2020, the billionaire had announced that he had about 4050 hectares of land dedicated to the exploitation of the ore. SummerIn 2021, Tesla even filed a patent for a metal sorting and separation system to reduce lithium export costs by more than 30%.

Pending the completion of this project, Tesla joined forces late last year with Ganfeng Lithium, the world’s largest lithium supplier, to guarantee the necessary and adequate supply for the next three years.

Volkswagen, BMW and General Motors have also entered into agreements with companies in Germany, Argentina or California to guarantee them substantial supplies until 2026.. Waiting, perhaps, to start in turn the exploitation of the much sought after ore.

Source: BRGM

Electric cars: there is so little lithium that Elon Musk is thinking of getting some on his own

A practice that is not without risk and that makes people shudder. Because if electric cars are projected for their respect for ecology and a logic of sustainable development, the exploitation of lithium, necessary for the proper operation of these vehicles, is, in turn, a real disaster, both ecological and humanitarian. .

To reduce the environmental impact, manufacturers are currently working on two solutions. The first is lithium recycling, which currently affects only 1% of batteries (compared to more than 90% of lead batteries). Concerning the second solution would be to produce new batteries of the so-called “semiconductors”.based much less on lithium than current batteries.

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