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Tesla’s Rough Start To The Year Just Got Worse As Lithium Supplier Changes Deal

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock fell sharply on Tuesday, to $106.06 by the afternoon hours, as the EV maker’s fourth-quarter delivery figures released on Tuesday disappointed—but a new gut punch was also delivered on Tuesday when one of Tesla’s lithium suppliers changed the terms of the deal.

Piedmont Lithium has contracted to supply Tesla with 125,000 tons of lithium concentrate this year from North American Lithium. But unlike previous deals where the price of lithium is fixed, the new deal for Tesla’s lithium will float based on market prices at the time of each shipment, according to a Tuesday press release from Piedmont.

The contract will begin in the second half of this year, and runs through the end of 2025. The contract will also have an option to renew the contract for three years.

“The electric vehicle and critical battery materials landscape has changed significantly since 2020 and this agreement reflects the importance of – and growing demand for – a North American lithium supply chain. This agreement helps to ensure that these critical resources from Quebec remain in North America and support the mission of the Inflation Reduction Act to bolster the U.S. supply chain, the clean energy economy, and global decarbonization,” Piedmont Lithium President and CEO Keith Phillips said.

North American Lithium is set to restart production in the first half of this year, with first commercial shipments slated for Q3 2023.

Lithium is a critical component of Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries. 

Tesla’s Model Y is single-handedly responsible for more than 10% of global EV lithium consumption as of Q3 2022, according to Adamas Intelligence data.

Tesla delivered 1.31 EVs in 2022—a 40% increase over 2021. Fourth quarter deliveries fell shy of analyst expectations at 405,278. Analysts had anticipated 427,000 deliveries for the quarter.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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