EV Challenges from Supply Chain Issues and Metals Mining 

Northam Platinum Ltd Booysendal Platinum Mine outside the town of Lydenburg in Mpumalanga, South Africa, on Tuesday, January 23 2017. Pic: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

The namesake for Tesla vehicles, Serbian American inventor Nikola Tesla, shook things up during the turn of the Century and until his death in 1943. The electrical and mechanical engineer was also a futurist, much like Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, Inc.

Tesla’s contributions to modern alternating current electricity are what landed him in the history books, and his surname as the moniker of the leading company that manufactures electric vehicles, batteries and solar panels. 

Tesla is the largest electric vehicle manufacturer in the world by volume.

“This means that the company has a necessary relationship to the mining industry for metals and minerals that are used in its vehicles,” according to Saint Jovite Youngblood, owner of Youngblood Metals Mining, who specializes in rare metals.

Now, what prompted a recent surge of Tesla stock is being debated. Some theorize an announcement of a major investment from Hertz, a rental car company, served as motivation. Stocks rose a staggering 13% after the announcement after Hertz ordered 100,000 Tesla vehicles. This pushed the valuation of Tesla over US $1 trillion.

However, Elon Musk himself stated that the deal was not yet signed, and had nothing to do with the economics of his company.

Tesla stock then started backsliding.

Now, a debate has erupted between Hertz and Musk.

“Hertz says deliveries of Tesla cars into its rental fleet are already occurring, despite a tweet Monday night by Tesla CEO Elon Musk that the automaker has not signed a contract with the company,” according to CNBC reporting.

Tesla was able to sidestep supply chain issues that are plaguing other automakers to deliver over 240,000 vehicles in the third quarter.

Electric vehicle batteries are developed with a contingent of rare metals, including lithium, cobalt, aluminum, and iron.

Tesla recently announced that the company will be altering the battery chemistry for standard-range cars.

“The new batteries will use a lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) chemistry rather than nickel-cobalt-aluminum which Tesla will continue to use in its longer-range vehicles,” according to a CNBC article. “The move is likely a way for Tesla to increase profit margins on its cars, while not necessarily having to raise prices.”

As Saint Jovite Youngblood points out, it will be interesting to see how companies continue to develop batteries around the prices and availability of certain metals, and how that will trickle down to consumers.

“We are coming into a new era of mining and manufacturing. The push for green energy and cleaner vehicles will greatly impact mining and mining will impact the research and development of batteries and energy. There will be a greater interdependence between the two industries, and hopefully a symbiotic one,” said Youngblood.

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