I’m on record as stating that demand for lithium will grow faster than most believe. Conventional wisdom seems to say that overall lithium demand will grow by 8%-12% annually. I understand why that range has been adopted, it’s already a fast growth rate by historical standards. Commodity and natural resource demand is frequently said to increase at, “the rate of GDP growth.” I wonder which country’s GDP rate is being referred to, hopefully not the U.S. A prime reason for my bullishness on lithium demand, with overall growth closer to 20% a year, is that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is attracting A LOT of attention and competition. I will spare readers the obligatory rattling off a list of Tesla’s growing competition. But there’s much more to the story than Tesla.
I believe that hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be phased out sooner rather than later. Any manufacturer that can’t deliver a full EV within the next 2-4 years might as well start working on flying cars, previously known as airplanes. This paradigm shift to EVs is not 5-10 years away, it’s right around the corner. Hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars are deployed on new car platforms, why would it be any different for the builders of EVs? A short time ago, manufactures released hybrid gasoline-electric cars so that they could claim to be, “green” companies. That’s completely changed, now the race is on for market share, volumes and profits.
“Range anxiety.” That’s the cool way of saying that prospective buyers of EVs are on the fence, until they’re confident that a massive infrastructure of electric charging stations is in place. Guess what? That’s nonsense. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, average daily driving per capita is about 40 miles. Commuters that drive 100-150 miles or more round trip are the exception, not the rule. Does 40 miles per day sound too low? That’s the U.S. average, the range around that average is probably fairly large. Take for example city dwellers that don’t drive daily.
If one were talking about natural gas stations, “range anxiety” would be a serious concern. Recall that T. Boone Pickens has been calling for the replacement of gasoline and diesel fueled cars with cleaner burning natural gas. In that highly unlikely scenario there would have to be a huge build out of natural gas stations. Not so with EVs. Electric Vehicles won’t require an epic rollout of thousands upon thousands of charging stations. As EVs evolve, there will be dozens of models with driving ranges in excess of 100 miles. By then, range anxiety will disappear. Instead of searching for a charging station, one’s garage electricity outlet will do the trick.