There can be no discussion of electric cars today without talking about lithium. They are the defining element, literally, behind the battery that makes electric cars work. An eight kilogram lithium-ion battery pack is the industry standard for electric cars. This is without mentioning replacement batteries, more or less efficient cars, and the other uses of lithium batteries.
Eight kilograms doesn’t sound like much at first, but it adds up fast. There are currently 22 million metric tons of usable lithium reserves worldwides. Taken as the eight kilogram standard, that means there are 2.5 billion batteries possible. Considering the massive population of the planet, this number isn’t as impressive as it seems. To hit net zero in car emissions by 2050 alone would take 2 billion electric cars.
This means that lithium is in demand and it is rising sharply. There is only so much of the material and people are not looking to waste what remains. Luckily, lithium is a fairly efficient element. Not only can it be heavily recycled in batteries, but it is almost completely reusable in other select uses. So while a lot of lithium will be moved into electric car batteries moving forward, that’s not to say it’ll all disappear.
Lithium batteries are not the only potential source for electric cars, yet they’re the most common. Lithium batteries are more efficient, take less upkeep, and last longer than the alternatives. Electric cars, in how they exist today, simply don’t exist without lithium. Moving forward what’ll be interesting to see is how that changes as lithium reserves drop.