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Musk says nickel is ‘biggest concern’ for electric-car batteries

Shifting some cars to a type of battery that uses iron instead.
Image: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Elon Musk has had it with nickel.

It’s scarce and expensive, so the chief executive officer of electric-carmaker Tesla tweeted on Thursday that the company’s shifting some cars to a type of battery that uses iron instead.

Musk has previously pleaded with miners to produce more nickel. Supplies will be tight for the next three years, and there could be a significant deficit as early as 2023 as demand picks up, according to BloombergNEF analyst Allan Ray Restauro.

Nickel is a key component in lithium-ion batteries, used in electric vehicles. It packs more energy into batteries and allows producers to reduce use of cobalt, which is more expensive and has a less transparent supply chain.

The metal has rallied 16% this year on the London Metal Exchange amid a broad-based rally in commodities, with investors betting on strong demand growth as economies reopen.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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Time will tell if electric vehicles are the solution they purport to be. As long as the batteries are charged with power from a coalfired plant the carbon emissions have not really been eliminated. The environmental impact of mining the materials to make these efficient batteries appears to be conveniently swept under the carpet too. What happens to most of these batteries when no longer in use?

The change to electric will happen, just because SA is behind with moving to Nuclear does not mean that the world stands still.

It is the same as the move from petrol lawnmowers to electric lawnmowers 30 years ago.

Electric motors/systems are so much easier to produce and maintain.

The batteries are too valuable to throw away – see https://electrek.co/2021/02/24/tesla-co-founder-jb-straubel-recycle-nissan-leaf-battery-redwood-materials/

Also the batteries are getting better and better, so will not need replacing in the car’s life.

While not an expert, I suspect that a 100km in coal generated battery power is still cleaner than petrol. Electric cars do have a “climate changing” footprint, but lower then ICE. Hopefully we are making progress…

A commentator here a while back (can’t remember who) pointed out that Eskom’s reported efficiency for its portfolio of thermal power plants is about 32%, which is appalling. Some car engines do better.

Now everyone will buy all shares related to Nickel and shoot up and then correct a week later.

End of comments.

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