According to Transport & Environment (T&E), a campaign group based in Brussels, the EU and UK car industries are struggling to secure the raw materials necessary to mass produce electric vehicle batteries.
New figures show that the European car industry has secured contracts for just 16% of the lithium, cobalt and nickel that is needed to hit 2030 targets, highlighting the intense competition among companies ‘scrambling’ for resources to deliver a ‘green revolution’.
The report shows that the world’s two biggest electric carmakers, Tesla and BYD in China, are both significantly ahead of their European rivals in securing access to these essential raw materials.
The analysis found that automotive manufacturers in the EU had disclosed agreements that would cover only 14% of the lithium, 17% of the nickel and 10% of the cobalt that will be needed to meet their targets for 2030. New fossil fuel cars are set to be banned across the UK and Europe in 2035, so the clock is ticking.
According to Julia Poliscanova, the senior director for vehicles and emobility at T&E, “There is a clear disconnect between carmakers’ electric vehicle goals and their critical mineral strategies.”
Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Hyundai/Kia were the carmakers with large European operations that were lagging furthest behind the market leaders, while Ford, Volkswagen and Stellantis are better placed to compete with Tesla and BYD.
The scale of the undersupply identified by T&E is worrying – figures from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence show a 400,000-tonne shortfall alone in lithium production in 2030 – and it does look like many leading European manufacturers will face a tough battle if they want to hit their electric targets.
Supply chain strategies look set to make or break the EV transition in Europe.