Batteries, Batteries, and More Batteries
If the automotive industry is going to start manufacturing millions upon millions of electric powered vehicles, it is going to need a lot of batteries. Plainly, the capacity to meet that expected eventual demand does not currently exist. The world is going to need more announcements like the building of a battery plant in Greensboro, North Carolina. The plant is reportedly about 1/3 of what Toyota plans to spend on automotive batteries in the United States in the next decade.
Toyota is not alone of course. Just days before Toyota’s announcement, General Motors revealed that it planned to form a joint venture with POSCO Chemical. That venture will build a factory in North America to process “critical battery materials for GM’s ultium electric vehicle platform.” With today’s supply chain problems, GM acknowledged that the venture would help it work toward “building a sustainable and resilient North America-focused supply chain for EVs…”
Of course, GM coming on the heels of Toyota was itself making its announcement on the heels of Stellantis declaring its signing of a joint development agreement with Factorial Energy. The joint development will “Advance Factorial’s high-voltage traction solid-state battery technology.” Stellantis noted that this investment was just one of many in battery technology with different partners.
Not to be outdone by Stellantis, on the very same day, Mercedes-Benz announced its own joint development agreement with Factorial Energy. Mercedes-Benz is aiming to test prototype cells of next-generation battery technology as early as 2022. The joint development agreement even includes an equity stake for the automaker.
To make all these batteries, precious metals are about to become more precious. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Rystad Energy predicts steep increases in demand for metals that include lithium, nickel, and cobalt. Mining companies may have an opportunity here, but they will need to invest to meet these demands. Lithium demand alone could increase more than 20 times by 2030.
There can be little doubt that the long, slow march to electric vehicles is ongoing there. But getting there is going to continue to require massive investments in vehicles, parts, commodities, and infrastructure.