Good luck with that, guys . . .


With so many [electric] cars getting ready to ship out to customers Elon Musk recently stated that he will need the world’s entire lithium supply annually in order to meet demand.

. . .

Musk’s biggest competitor, Warren Buffet’s BYD, has also echoed the challenges facing the industry. Buffet’s company also says they are going to require the entire world’s lithium supply to meet demand.

And even car manufacturers are getting into the game. Volkswagen just invested $9 billion into the development of a battery factory, and Ford, Toyota, GM, and Nissan aren’t far behind.

There’s more at the link.

Good luck with that, guys.  What’s it to be?  Duke it out with boxing gloves?  Pistols at dawn?  However this is decided, it should make business and commerce much more of a spectator sport!



  1. It reminds me of how Siemens ended up out of the cell phone business in the late nineties; at the time there were only a few chip fabs making critical parts for cell phones. When one of the fabs had a major accident, the other manufacturers used their fall back plans with other fabs – Siemens hadn't made those fall back plans and was froze out of the industry all capacity was allocated to those who had plans and contracts for it and there was none left for Siemens.

    In a similar way, a limited supply will go to either the one willing to the one who contracted for it first, and it isn't contracted, then to the highest bidder. If there isn't enough supply to go around, then it won't go around.

    Of course, that assumes that all of these cars actually get built – demand has been lower than expected for several years, and even when there is demand, companies are having trouble meeting it: Tesla has recently been far from hitting their manufacturing targets, and I suspect other companies will also have trouble getting all of their new gadgets and technologies to work right, so the total demand for lithium will probably be less than the companies forecast.


    AFAIK Bolivia has more than enough of the stuff, but is only going to process as much per year as the market will absorb.

    It is readily extractable as a byproduct from Icelandic geothermal power-plants.

    Simple economics dictates that if "shortage" causes the price to rise, new sources will become economical to exploit. The price has been all over the place in the past decade, but that hasn't dampened the increasing use of the stuff so far.

  3. I expect that while there'll be a price blip, the only real question is how quickly new production can ramp up. It is definitely NOT zero lag time.

  4. So far, the future has been boring and decidedly un-futuristic. A cyberpunk shooting war between tech companies over the right to extract scarce resources from third-world countries would go a long way to alleviating that.

  5. Quirel,

    I doubt it will be a war directly between tech companies. But it might be expressed as a conflict between their nation state sponsors. Hillary putting the prestige and national security team support behind Tesla, Frau Merkel supporting VW, and China supporting their battery manufacturers.

    I do not see how it could, but our leaders are doing a lot of really stupid stuff lately. Why not start a world war?

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