Top EVs by cobalt deployed in Europe in June 2023
In absolute terms, cobalt use will continue to increase as EV sales boom around the world
Cobalt’s traditional market is superalloys for the aerospace and other high-tech industries, but the battery sector, including mobile phones, now accounts for the bulk of applications.
In the past cobalt was consistently the priciest battery metal material, but from a peak of nearly $100,000 per tonne five years ago, the metal is now in danger of slipping below $30,000 a tonne.
Thrifting of the metal in NCM (and NCA) batteries has been ongoing – early NCM cells used nickel-cobalt-manganese in a 1:1:1 ratio, but now this mix only commands 1% of the market in terms of MWh hours deployed globally the Adamas Intelligence EV Battery Capacity and Battery Metals Tracker shows.
The rise of low-cost lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode chemistries, which forego cobalt and nickel altogether, has meant demand growth for cobalt in EVs has lagged the overall market.
The Adamas Intelligence database indicates in June this year LFP commanded just over 31% of the global market in terms of battery capacity deployed. Cars using a combination of NCM and LFP cells, which lowers cost and alleviates LFP’s largest drawback – range – are also increasing in popularity.
Nevertheless, in absolute terms cobalt use will increase as EV sales boom around the world. That’s particularly true in markets outside China where range remains one of the top considerations for buyers – many of whom are buying an electric car for the first time.
Nearly 2,000 tonnes of cobalt deployed onto European roads in June, 21% by just five EV models
Adamas analysis shows that the top 5 EV models by cobalt deployed in Europe upped their combined usage of the metal by 18% from May to June of this year. Compared to June 2022, the number of cobalt tonnes deployed in all newly sold EVs in the region is up 42% in June of this year and is fast approaching 2,000 tonnes-per-month.
Tesla switched to LFP batteries for its standard range entry level Model Y and 3, Europe’s two bestselling electric cars, at the beginning of last year, but the Texas-based EV pioneer’s Y still used nearly three times the amount of cobalt as its nearest European competitor in June this year at over 170 tonnes.
Volkswagen’s mid-size SUV, the ID.4 comes in at no 2, followed by the Peugeot e-208, a hot hatch (or perhaps just warm: 0-100km/h takes over 8 seconds) which the French carmaker launched in early 2020 and replaced with a newer version last year. Le Peugeot is followed by Volvo’s Polestar 2. The Polestar brand was spun out of the Swedish carmaker in 2017 to further the electric ambitions of the company and the 2 is its best attempt at penetrating the so-called mass market. Volvo is owned by China’s Geely and the fastback is built in China.Rounding out the top 5 is Audi’s Q8 e-tron. Launched at the end of last year, the brawny Q8 with its commodious frunk is particularly popular in Europe and North America.
Note: In order to produce the most accurate and granular data, battery capacity and metal deployed numbers in the Adamas Intelligence EV Battery Capacity and Battery Metals Tracker do not include cars leaving assembly lines, those on dealership lots or in the wholesale supply chain; only end-user registered vehicles are considered.
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