E-mobility in shortage of supply
Lack of lithium and charging stations
May 13, 2022, 7:19 pm
The massive increase in electric cars in 2021 makes analysts stand up and take notice. They warn that rapid development may soon be slowed by a lack of lithium and charging stations. The study warns that industry and politics must take countermeasures here.
Global sales of electric cars doubled last year and represented 8% of the total vehicle market. A significant increase is also expected for the next few years. However, shortages in the supply of important raw materials, primarily lithium, and insufficient infrastructure investments could slow this growth and, among other things, jeopardize the climate targets set by the EU. At least that’s what a new study by credit insurer Allianz Trade titled “Electromobility Turns On The Turbo: An Imminent Lithium Supply Gap” suggests. According to analysts, much greater investments in infrastructure and a greater commitment of the industry in the supply of raw materials and production capacity for batteries should be made.
In 2021, approximately 6.8 million new electric cars will be on the roads around the world. China was the engine of the electric boom. In December 2021 alone, New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) sold in China accounted for 21% of all global automotive sales. However, the Chinese state is currently reducing financial support measures, which are also expected to slow the increase in NEV sales.
For Europe in particular, the Allianz study expects growth of 60 percent for this year. The US is projected to grow by 50% in 2022 and 2023. The US electric vehicle market could grow significantly faster if the Build Back Better Act grant program goes into effect. Globally, the study predicts an increase in sales of electric vehicles by 50% for this year and thus a total market share of NEVs of 12%. In 2017, they represented only one percent of the total market. By 2030, half of all light vehicles sold in the world could be in the NEV sector.
The charging infrastructure cannot keep up
According to the authors, however, infrastructure investments will not keep pace with continued strong sales growth going forward. Examples of charging stations: In 2014, the EU set a target of a maximum ratio of ten electric vehicles per public charging station and the installation of one million charging stations by 2025. In 2021, however, in the EU only 230,000 charging stations were counted, which means that in 2021 alone there were ten newly registered electric cars for each charging station. The study sees large gaps in funding, especially for charging infrastructures in Europe, and thus also in promoting green economies, which however should increase significantly to reach the 1.5 degree target set by the EU.
Investments are also expected to increase to cover the growing demand for lithium. While the demand for lithium for batteries accounted for about a quarter in the 2010s, it is projected to be 95% by 2030. With the projected increase in demand for electric vehicles, there could be a supply gap of more than 500,000 tons by 2030, according to the study. According to the authors, it is therefore imperative that the industry now pave the way to close a supply gap of this magnitude.