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Lithium Price Surge Jeopardizes Energy Transition Efforts

Soaring lithium prices are threatening energy transition efforts as EV battery makers will be forced to hike the prices for their products by as much as 25 percent, Morgan Stanley has warned.

Over the past 12 months, the bank said, as quoted by Bloomberg, the price of lithium carbonate, which is a key ingredient in electric vehicle batteries, has jumped five times. This may force EV manufacturers to hike prices by up to 15 percent, hurting demand.

The news comes at a bad time for EVs. Rising retail fuel prices in some parts of the world, such as the United States, are driving higher EV demand, but carmakers are already finding it hard to satisfy it amid persistent supply chain problems and the rising prices of most raw materials.

The conclusions of Morgan Stanley analysts echo those of a Chinese EV manufacturer. Earlier this week, Li Auto Inc’s chief executive Li Xiang said on social media that “The cost of batteries in the second quarter rose by a very ridiculous amount.”

Because of the rising costs of raw materials, the world’s largest EV manufacturer CATL has already said it would be raising the prices for some of its products. Tesla, meanwhile, raised the prices for its cars for the U.S. and Chinese markets twice in a single week.

“Historically, the battery price cost curve had been declining at a pace of 3% to 7% annually for so many years in a row it almost seemed inevitable,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in their note this week. “But molecules don’t play by the same rules as Moore’s Law. The world has changed, and along with it is a new paradigm of input costs.” 

The electrification of transport is one of the pillars on which energy transition plans stand, along with a buildup in renewable energy generation capacity and hydrogen.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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