The lithium price rises due to the demand of the automotive


Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia) – Photo: Danielle Pereira (Flickr) CC BY

little by Little the electric cars and plug-in hybrids are starting to be sold in large numbers, and a key element for its manufacture is the lithium, which is found in their batteries. To higher capacity batteries, more lithium is needed. Your quote is going up.

today, four companies are vying for the 85% of the global market of lithium, and are SQM (Chile), FMC (USA), Abermale (USA) and Talison (Australia). The price depends almost up to them, and the price of lithium has increased in some markets by 200% in the space of a few months.

The consulting firm IHS Chemical figure at one-third the amount of lithium that is intended to the production of batteries. Although the electronics is responsible in huge measure for this, though it is true that consumption of lithium associated with the technology grows bit, but the car batteries rises 25% annually.


Volkswagen and Audi are betting heavily on the cars, plug-in, the process has accelerated as a result of the Dieselgate

For a horizon of 2025 enrolment of car batteries will reach 40% according to forecasts of AlixPartners. A forecast more modest-and is very optimistic – is that of the VAG Group to sell 25% of car batteries for those dates. Much less optimistic is the forecast of the own OPEC.

Is investigated in batteries that do not use lithium, but there is still a lot of development

The lithium necessary for all those cars will be encrypted in hundreds of thousands of tons per year, but rest assured, there is lithium left over. Only Bolivia has reserves of 40 million tonnes, according to US Geological Survey, and that gives to produce car batteries for decades.

Within South america there are three countries that contain lithium in vast quantities: Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. They share a geographical area known as “the triangle of the lithium,” and there are the largest reserves of this mineral on the planet. Therefore, the amount you can produce will not be a problem. Is more, the business of the li-ion will bring wealth to these countries.


Gigafactoría Tesla in Reno, Nevada (USA)

on the other hand keep in mind that the batteries of automotive, once they have met their life cycle for this purpose, can be reused for other uses, such as batteries, domestic, and ultimately be recycled. More than 90% of the components can be re-used, and that includes lithium.

The consulting firm IHS Chemical believes that if these three Latin american countries begin to move their industry from mining and production of lithium, there will be sufficient quantity in the market as to prices to be stable. Another thing would be to form a cartel and impose their prices, as OPEC does with oil.

In short, the price increase that is experiencing the lithium is more of a temporary phenomenon that a long-term trend to continue to keep electric cars far from the pocket of ordinary people. In addition, recycling also will be providing lithium to the market as they are recycling batteries at the end of its useful life.


Prototype Nissan Leaf with double the capacity of normal, 48 kWh. More capacity means more weight, more volume occupied, and obviously, the more price

short term, Tesla will be the largest producer of batteries for automotive, more than half a million annual units. We will need huge amounts of lithium, but in the industry when one makes purchases in the beast get the better price by lowering the marginal cost of the raw materials. Volkswagen is also planning a large factory, but will not be ready in 2018.

The gigafactoría Tesla is already in service and will increase the pace of production to meet the demand of the Tesla Model 3, as well as the batteries domestic Powerwall. When the first generations of electric cars start to end of their useful lives, their batteries will continue to work in different uses.

In automotive batteries can be used in an acceptable manner with 80% of its capacity. That means that the batteries of a Leaf will have 24 kWh 19.2 kWh. Still enough power to power a house for more than four hours. Conclusion, there is nothing to worry about medium-and long-term.