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EV Sales Are Booming, But Battery Metals Remain A Problem

Global sales of electric vehicles (EVs) surged last year and have continued to grow strongly this year, but soaring prices of critical minerals and supply chain bottlenecks are the greatest obstacles to a continued surge in EV sales in the short term, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Global EV Outlook 2022 published on Monday.

Global EV sales broke all records last year and continued their strong performance in the first quarter of 2022, mostly thanks to sustained policy support in many markets, with overall public spending on subsidies and incentives doubling in 2021 to nearly $30 billion, the IEA said in the annual report.

Sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles doubled in 2021 from 2020 to a new annual record of 6.6 million. Last year, more than 120,000 electric cars were sold each week globally, while back in 2012, a total 120,000 EVs were sold for the entire year, the IEA said.

Almost 10 percent of global car sales were electric in 2021, four times the market share in 2019. The total number of electric cars on the roads is now around 16.5 million, triple the amount in 2018. Global sales of electric cars have kept rising strongly in 2022, with 2 million sold in Q1, a 75-percent jump compared to the same period in 2021.

China accounted for half of the world’s EV car sales last year, with sales tripling to 3.3 million. EV sales also grew strongly in Europe—up by 65 percent to 2.3 million—and the United States, where EV sales more than doubled to 630,000, the IEA said.

The agency, however, warned that “In the short term, the greatest obstacles to continued strong EV sales are soaring prices for some critical minerals essential for battery manufacturing, as well as supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine and by continued Covid-19 lockdowns in some parts of China.”

The supply of critical minerals for battery technologies will be the key to the continued roll-out of EVs globally, it says.

“Policy makers, industry executives and investors need to be highly vigilant and resourceful in order to reduce the risks of supply disruptions and ensure sustainable supplies of critical minerals. Under its new Ministerial mandate, the IEA is working with governments around the world on how to strategically manage resources of critical minerals that are needed for electric vehicles and other key clean energy technologies,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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