If some specialists fear a shortage of lithium and therefore of batteries for electric cars, the discovery of a deposit in Belgium should change the situation. But this will go hand in hand with a potential increase in prices for electric cars in the future.
Sales of electric cars continue to increase around the world. In France, they have already exceeded those of diesel for several months, as well as on a European scale. Moreover, for the very first time in history, the market share of zero-emission (exhaust) cars has risen above 20% on the Old Continent.
A new deposit
But this increase in sales also results in a rising demand for raw materials. And particularly in lithium. And for good reason, this material is present in almost all batteries, since sodium accumulators are still in their infancy. The problem is that the latter is not an inexhaustible resource and many specialists are sounding the alarm.
It is in fact said thata shortage is brewing and that resources may be lacking. According to one estimate, it will take no less than 90,000 tonnes of lithium to make it possible to drive 15 million electric cars by 2030 nothing than in Germany. However, annual production is currently 105,000 tonnes.
Are we going to run out of lithium in the coming years, while Brussels also wants to ban the sale of thermal cars? Rest assured, the situation is far from being as alarming as people say. And the recent discovery of a deposit in Belgium confirms it again. Daily life The Free explains that the Hita company recently found lithium in the water it pumps near Antwerp.
This deposit could make it possible to produce batteries for 125,000 electric cars per year, even if it only gives 100 mg/liter. And this while the profitability threshold is currently set at 150 g/liter. Good news however, especially since other deposits have recently been discovered, including one in the United States which would even be the largest in the world with 120 million tonnes.
A rising price?
At the start of the year, another was discovered in India, containing more than 5.9 million tonnes, while France also has a deposit in Alsace. The latter will be operated by the company Lithium de France, which plans to invest 44 million euros. Enough to produce cleaner batteries while reducing our dependence on China. Suffice to say that the shortage is not yet imminent.
However, everything is not rosy either. Jean-Marc Baele, specialist in geology interviewed by the Belgian media, warns the possible increase in cost. In fact, farming in Europe is more expensive than in Asia, particularly due to the cost of labor. It’s the same thing for car manufacturing, as confirmed by MG, whose price for its MG4 will be increased when it is produced here.
Should we expect an increase in the price of electric cars, despite the fact that we are promised parity soon? Not necessarily. In fact, the price of lithium is generally falling, and the Belgian deposit is too small to have a lasting influence on it. However, a manufacturer who uses only European lithium and who manufactures his cars on the Old Continent risks charging more for his cars.
And this is likely to happen, since France wants to penalize brands using batteries produced in China by removing the ecological bonus. In addition, the Belgian deposit would be more virtuous for the environment, because the exploitation of lithium from geothermal energy has a less harmful impact than mines.
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