Demand for lithium, cobalt, nickel and neodymium globally grew by around a third in 2020 compared to 2019 for manufacturing electric vehicles. Tesla is weighing heavily on the demand for these materials.
83,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent…
83,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent were consumed to manufacture batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid cars sold worldwide in 2020. An increase of 39% compared to the 60,100 tonnes recorded the previous year.
The Adamas Intelligence firm notes that this situation is largely the consequence of the progress of the European and Chinese markets observed in the second half of the year.
While from January to May 2020 monthly shares remained below 6,000 tonnes, December alone weighed in around 16,000 tonnes on its own. With the side effect of a surge in the price of lithium carbonate from around 6.50 to over 7.50 dollars.
… including 18,700 tonnes for Tesla
Tesla consumed in 2020 18,700 of the 83,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent that were used to produce all electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the world. This represents a share of 22.4%.
On its own, the American manufacturer needed more lithium than the BYD, VW, Renault and Audi brands combined. The latter come just after him in the ranking drawn up by the firm Adamas Intelligence. By reasoning at the level of manufacturer groups rather than brands, Tesla outweighed BYD and Volkswagen together.
The highest share of lithium was consumed for its electric cars circulating in the United States: 47%. The Asia-Pacific region represents 34%. Europe comes next with only 19%.
67% of lithium for Model 3
The Model 3 received 67% of the lithium consumed by Tesla in 2020. The Model Y has already weighed 17% of the volumes of this material, more than the Model S and Model X combined (16%).
Until 2020, the American manufacturer used 100% lithium in the form of hydroxide. The situation changed with the manufacture of the Model 3 in China. LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate) battery cells supplied by CATL for the Shanghai plant in 4e quarter are made with lithium carbonate.
Year-round, and globally, this new product for Tesla accounts for 16% of its figures.
2e place for cobalt
Between 2019 and 2020, the volume of cobalt used to manufacture electric and plug-in hybrid cars increased from 14,500 to 18,750 tonnes (+ 29%). Due to disparities in monthly requests, the price per kilo for its sulfate has fluctuated between $ 6 (April 2020) and over $ 8.50 (December).
Five carmaker groups were 49 percent of the cobalt embedded in vehicles newly launched on the roads last year.
With a volume of 2,000 tonnes, Tesla is in second placee consumer of cobalt, with a share of 63% for Model 3 (Model Y = 16%; Model X = 13%; Model S = 9%).
Volkswagen is the first consumer of Cobalt
In 2020, the Volkswagen group consumed 3,000 tonnes of cobalt, which is 50% more than Tesla. This volume is split between its brands Volkswagen (42%), Audi (35%), Porsche (15%) and the other combined, including Seat and Skoda (8%).
In the table proposed by Adamas Intelligence, the Hyundai-Kia group occupies the 3e position, with a volume of approximately 1,800 tonnes. With respective shares of 57% for the Hyundai brand, 42% for Kia. About 2% remains for joint ventures created in China.
With Mercedes-Benz and Smart, the Daimler group weighs just over 1,200 tonnes of cobalt. The new Stellantis group closes the Top 5 with nearly 1,100 tonnes of cobalt integrated into the batteries of Peugeot, Opel, Vauxhall, Citroën, DS, Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep and other Chinese-made electric vehicles in a joint venture.
Nickel and Neodymium
Used respectively to build batteries and on-board motors in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, nickel and neodymium follow the trends of cobalt and lithium in their price curves and volumes used.
Nickel requirements rose in 2020 from 61,100 to 80,700 tonnes (+ 32%). Over the same period, neodymium consumption for the engines of electrified vehicles increased by 35%. In volumes: 6,600 tonnes in 2020, compared to 4,900 tonnes in 2019.
Over the past year, prices per kilogram of neodymium oxide have fluctuated from less than $ 40 to close to $ 65. This is a sign that the availability of this material is critical. But by the way, neodymium is not a concern for Tesla who does not want it in the motors of its electric cars.
Sources Adamas Intelligence: