With Cost Of Cobalt Rising, EV Prices May Increase…Or They Might Not
Nikkei reports a high increase in lithium-ion battery making materials such as lithium (go figure) and also cobalt over the past few years, which now could apparently affect battery cell pricing, and in turn, the pricing of EVs themselves.
Cobalt has surged a couple times over the past ~twelve months.
Now, to be fair, not all kinds of lithium-ion battery cells use cobalt, but those which do are also common inside some of the most popular models (Tesla/Panasonic uses cobalt electrodes).
“The international price of cobalt, a material used in rechargeable lithium ion batteries, rose to an eight-year high of around $27.50 per pound in mid-April, a 90% increase since the beginning of the year and 2.5 times greater than a year ago. Cobalt is “being bought on the anticipation of increasing demand for use in electric vehicles,” according to an official at a major trading house.”
“Cobalt is a byproduct of nickel and copper, but supply is falling as mining companies roll back production due to a sluggish copper market and stronger environmental regulations. Some are also worried about instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is a major producer of cobalt.”
Separately lithium also is becoming more expensive. Prices are three times higher than two years ago in China (“international benchmark for the metal”).
When material costs goes up, it’s harder to achieve battery price cuts, but fortunately material costs still only a fraction of the entire equation. So at least for now, adding a couple hundred bucks to battery costs are still offset by a lot of other factors.