Lithium Industry Expansion Outpacing Electric-Car Growth

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【Summary】Lithium mines around the world have sped up the production and the mining of lithium to account for the upcoming boom in electric cars. Unfortunately, that electric car boom hasn’t come yet and now, the industries worried about having too much lithium.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 11, 2019 9:00 AM PT
Lithium Industry Expansion Outpacing Electric-Car Growth

As electric cars increase in popularity, automakers and supply companies are requiring more and more lithium. The majority of modern vehicles have lithium-ion battery packs that require a large amount of the material to make. And that's just cars. When you think about all of the other items that use lithium, like smartphones, rechargeable packs, and laptops, clearly, a lot of lithium is needed. Data collected by Transparency Market Research claims that demand for lithium-ion batteries is set to double by 2024 .

No More Lithium Shortage
With that kind of expectation, the automotive industry was expecting a lithium shortage in the near future, causing some manufacturers to create partnerships with plants to have a constant supply of raw materials for batteries. That was the past and now, automakers will once again have to shift gears quickly, as lithium production is outpacing the electric-car boom that everyone was waiting for.
According to Bloomberg, lithium miners have been going after lithium to stock up for a time when electric vehicles bombard the market. But a few issues are holding EVs back from going mainstream globally and it's creating a situation where lithium miners actually have more product on hand.
As the outlet points out, prices for lithium between 2015 and 2018 tripled as the global number of electric vehicles hit a total of 5 million units. At the time, the auto industry started to get concerned over the amount of lithium they could obtain with electric vehicles continuing to grow at a rapid pace. In response, more lithium mines have opened up around the world, especially in Australia. But Bloomberg claims the electric-car boom hasn't happened yet, China, the world's largest market, is starting to thaw, and demand for lithium has already started to decrease. These three things have resulted in lithium prices decreasing by 30 percent.

Where's The EV Boom?
"The latest EV data did reveal slowing growth, inferring that on top of excess supply, demand is now a problem," said Vivienne Lloyd and other unnamed analysts at Macquarie Capital Ltd. in a report, claims the outlet. "The key interest for investors should be who is likely to survive."
It may sound crazy, but China's appetite for cars is decreasing. Electric vehicle sales grew by roughly 90 percent in the country in the first three months of 2019 in China. But as Bloomberg points out, that's only half of the growth analysts saw in the country between 2017 and 2018. That's troubling, as lithium output in Australia is expected to increase by approximately 23 percent over the next 24 months.
Short-term demand may not look to good for lithium miners, but the outlet claims that things are still looking up in the long term. Automakers don't expect EVs to take off immediately, but sometime in the near future. So they're looking to get ahead of the ball by looking at what they're possible supply needs may be in the future.
With such uncertainty in the air, the outlet claims that the amount of lithium miners have on hand will fluctuate. Not only will EV demand be set by China, but also by changing battery requirements from automakers that are looking to expand range and improve charging capability.

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