Chime’s Slowdown Highlights Limits of Bank DisruptorsRead more

Storing raw manganese. Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

Soaring Metals Prices Are Deepening Western Exposure to China

Photo: Storing raw manganese. Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

Welcome back to The Electric! 

Tune in to a special pop-up event on Wednesday: Will AI Transform Batteries? Machine learning has unleashed a new age for drug discovery and genomics, but it has barely penetrated battery science. Can it do so this decade? To discuss, I am excited to host a Live Chat with AI pioneer Andrew Ng, founder of Landing AI, and Tim Holme, CTO of QuantumScape. Oct. 27 at 11:30 a.m. PT. RSVP here to listen and have a chance to question Andrew and Tim yourself. 

Today, we are discussing the brewing battery supply chain crisis:

Soaring EV Metals Prices Deepen Western Exposure to China

Forecasts of an electric vehicle revolution this decade rely on a small clutch of assumptions. At the core is this one: that expensive EVs will soon drop in price until they cost the same or less than the gasoline-powered vehicles that most people currently drive. But to ensure that this cost plunge actually happens, automakers—seeing prices soar for the most popular metals required in EV batteries—are urgently recalibrating the type of batteries they had been planning for these vehicles.

The idea is that if the automakers shift to batteries made of plentiful metals, they can avoid supply shortages and push through with lower EV prices in the middle of the decade, when they plan to flood the market with affordable models.

But even if they can make this change, the automakers still seem likely to end up vulnerable to a market dominated by a single player—China.

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