Happy 2022 and welcome back to The Electric!
In response to the end-year reader survey, we will be adding features to your subscription as the year unfolds. One of them will be The Electric Quarterly, a four-times-a-year special edition making sense of the quarter and year to date, and looking forward to what comes next. Stay tuned for more, including word of the next Live Chat later this month.
This week, we look at how the critical battery materials shortage could be a pathway for Chinese electric vehicle makers into the U.S. and European markets.
If anything is keeping U.S. and European electric vehicle makers awake at night as the new year begins, it’s how to obtain enough batteries for the millions of EVs they are preparing to produce over the coming decade. None of them has managed to overcome the industry’s critical shortfall of battery metals and minerals such as lithium, nickel and graphite.
None, that is, except Polestar, a four-year-old Sweden-based EV manufacturer, and its parent company Volvo. Both have a powerful advantage in their owner—Geely, one of China’s biggest automakers, which just inked a deal with Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving–car unit—and can tap into the country’s plentiful supply of batteries. Others may fret about battery access, but not Polestar or Volvo. “Semiconductors are more of an issue [for Polestar] in the very short term,” Dennis Nobelius, Polestar’s chief operating officer, told me.