A Tesla official has reportedly predicted that the electric vehicle industry will face a global battery shortage due to a shortage of minerals required to build these.
The automaker's global supply manager, Sarah Maryssael, reportedly shared the prediction with a private conference of industry insiders. Said event, held in Washington, included mining officials and attendees from the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of State, reports Reuters.
Materials whose long-term availability reportedly concerns Tesla include copper, nickel, cobalt, and lithium, the most immediately pressing of which is the most common: copper. The metal is said to be used at about twice the rate for EVs in comparison to traditional combustion vehicles, and with multiple automakers pledging wholesale switches to electric power in the near future (such as General Motors), demand for copper within the car industry may be set to increase exponentially.
Pressure on the copper mining industry is expected to come from more than just the automotive world, too. "Smart home" systems are predicted to consume 1.5 million tons of the metal by 2030. This situation won't be helped by a supposedly under-developed industry, despite efforts by some of the world's largest copper producers to increase output. Maryssael reportedly told attendees that partnering with new copper mines in the U.S. or Australia offers "huge potential."
Cobalt, a favorite material for battery cathode, is another touchy topic within the battery industry as much of the world's supply comes from the Congo, where child labor and other controversial extraction practices are common. Tesla reportedly hopes to minimize the material's use in its cathodes, instead of leaning on nickel, which is also rare, but less so.
Fears of resource wars have steered some automakers to using minimal to no rare minerals in their products' electrical systems. BMW is one such company and has boasted that its electric motors use no rare metals, precluding dependence on rare minerals. That doesn't mean the price of electric BMWs will be lower, of course, as its executives have posited that they expect EVs to never compete with fossil-fueled cars on price point.