everything that changes for the electric car

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Good news for the electric car: India has just found, in its territory, a deposit of 5.9 million tons of lithium. This is huge, as global deposits were considered to have accounted for 14 million tons in 2018!

Audi factory
Battery production, Audi plant

We often hear that the electric car is not a solution in the fight against global warming. One of the reasons given is their greed for lithium. In fact, each battery incorporates several kilograms of this chemical element. Some experts fear that the rush for this white gold will generate tensions and shortages, because the supply is less than the demand.

A gigantic reservoir on a global scale

But the recent Indian discovery, announced by the Ministry of Mines, questions, at least in part, this alarmist discourse. And for good reason: India has just discovered a deposit of some 5.9 tons of lithium oxide in the country’s basement. Does this figure mean anything to you? So you have to put it in perspective with world deposits. In 2018, they were estimated at around 14 million tons worldwide.

In other words, the Indian discovery increases them by more than 40%! But beware, the precise nature of basements is relatively unknown throughout the world. Thus, a more recent US study dating from 2019 announces, for its part, a global lithium deposit of… 80 million tons! In this case, the Indian discovery represents less than 10% of the total already known.

lithium mine
lithium mine

For comparison, in 2020, Bolivia would contain around 21 million tons of lithium, compared to 17 million for Argentina, 9 million for Chile, 6.8 million for the United States, 6.3 million for Australia and 4.5 million Chinese.

In France, a deposit of approximately one tonne of lithium oxide is due to be exploited soon, in Allier, which will make it possible to produce 35 million tons of lithium per year for 25 years. Enough to equip about 700,000 electric cars a year.

The electric car can do without lithium

Above all, this discovery makes it possible to qualify the words of alarmist experts. Yes, the electric car has a sweet tooth for lithium. But this natural resource is not rare, and the discoveries of available deposits could well multiply in the coming years. Countries are starting to get serious about it, as the financial windfall behind tons of lithium is very interesting.

If in the short term lithium is extremely valuable for the development of the electric car, this is much less true in the long term. The Chinese battery giant, CATL, knows something, to whom we owe the battery that allows electric cars to travel 1,000 km. It is preparing, by 2023, the first sodium battery, which will not require any gram of lithium. Of course, there are disadvantages, but this will reduce the stress on lithium.

Another avenue is recycling: electric car batteries can be recycled extremely well, as Tesla’s numbers in particular show. Volkswagen is working for its part on recycling that tends to 100%, to create an almost closed circuit. But to achieve this, you need to have a lot of lithium to recycle. This should not happen for several years, the time that the first electric cars on the road end up in the scrapyard.

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