Prices for lithium have risen massively in the last 10 years, throwing a huge wrench in the viability of electric vehicle ambitions. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that his company might have to mine and refine its own material if prices don’t settle back down. And we’re left wondering if General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Stellantis, Rivian and others are thinking the same thing.
The numbers, posted by World of Statistics on Twitter, show a staggering increase in the price of lithium. Since 2012, the price of Lithium has gone up dramatically, with the price increasing from $17,000 to $78,032 in just one year.
Price of lithium has gone to insane levels! Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale, unless costs improve.
There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but pace of extraction/refinement is slow.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 8, 2022
“Price of lithium has gone to insane levels,” Musk said. “There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but pace of extraction/refinement is slow.”
Lithium is the lightest and least dense metal on the periodic table, which makes it perfect for electric vehicles as a lower power to weight ratio makes for a more efficient vehicle. Even so, battery electric vehicles are considerably heavier than their gasoline-powered counterparts.
Tesla applied for a patent on a new kind of lithium mining process last year, which would “extract lithium from a clay mineral and compositions”. The process would be environmentally-friendly and economical according to Musk, and help to create the supply needed for new factories such as Gigafactory Texas and Berlin.
Like other automakers, Tesla has already been forced to raise the prices of almost all of its models, in some cases making them ineligible for government incentives. The price of batteries will have a ripple effect on the entire electric car industry, which will derail automakers’ (and the government’s) plans for widespread adoption.
As it sits currently, electric vehicles are still firmly in the luxury category of the car world, and if automakers can’t find a way to make prices go down they’re going to remain a commodity for the wealthy and not the planet-saving people movers that automakers are hoping for.
Tesla and its CEO have already taken a few steps to begin lithium mining, starting with buying lithium claims on 10,000 acres of land in the Nevada desert back in 2020. This is different than the recent news that Musk had purchased Nevada Lithium Corporation, which turned out to be a fake news story stemming from a seemingly genuine Newswire press release.
Many outlets reported the incorrect story about the purchase, causing stock prices of the lithium mine to rise by over 250%. It was only after Lithium Corp. released its own statement confirming the report as false that everything settled back down, and Tesla fans were forced to apologize.
ATTENTION: Despite the news that Tesla had "confirmed" that it acquired Nevada-based lithium mining company $LTUM popping up in various news wires/webistes, 5WPR, the agency cited in the release says the press release is NOT real/authentic. Thx for checking @EdLudlow!
— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) April 13, 2022