E-cars on the verge of extinction? It could be over in 11 years

Anyone who buys an electric car usually wants to do something good for the environment with it. It is also about maintaining free mobility when combustion engines soon disappear from the streets. But it could soon be the end of e-cars too.

E-cars have an undoubted advantage over combustion engines: They drive without fossil fuels. If the electricity is generated from renewable sources, you are practically not dependent on finite resources to drive. But that only applies to driving, and when it comes to construction, the electric vehicles cannot do without raw materials – and the occurrences are finite.

E-cars face a problem: In 11 years cobalt will be scarce

A study by the Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) now shows when the end could come. She concludes that there is a procurement risk for more than 20 raw materials that are essential for German industry consists.

E-car production is likely to be particularly affected by this for several reasons: On the one hand, the IW expects that in the coming years the Demand for electric cars is growing rapidly, although it currently looks different. More e-cars require more raw materials such as cobalt, graphite and lithium, which are primarily needed in high-performance batteries.

On the other hand, these raw materials are rare. According to the calculations, this should be particularly critical for cobalt. 1,300 gigawatt hours of battery capacity would be required for 36 million e-cars in 2030. For the economically usable deposits known today, this would mean: Everything will be gone in 11 years.

Electric cars are not finished – despite scarce resources

That is “a warning signal that we have to do something at all levels”, says Karl Lichtblau, IW-Consult managing director (source: dpa via Handelsblatt). But it means not necessarily the end for e-cars. The IW draws several conclusions: German industry and thus also the manufacturers of electric cars must rely on circular economy – that is, recycle and reuse raw materials that have already been subsidized.

You should get these misconceptions about electric cars out of your head before you switch:

In addition, one relies on technical progress. A lot is already being invested in research into alternative battery cells. The more you like that Reduce dependence on a raw material can, the better the needs of industry can be distributed. Solid-state batteries based on graphene can be part of the solution and should also enable longer ranges and faster charging for e-cars.