Jeep's CEO doesn't think there are enough raw materials on earth to meet electric-car demand

  • Some 1.3 billion gas-powered vehicles need to be replaced with "clean mobility," Carlos Tavares said.

  • Automakers are already racing to secure limited raw materials.

  • Lithium, cobalt, and nickel mining executives have already expressed concern.

Stellantis' CEO doesn't think there are enough raw materials readily available to meet electric vehicle needs.

"We know that we need lithium," Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Stellantis (which encompasses brands like Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, and more) said Wednesday during the automaker's first annual Freedom of Mobility Forum meeting, as reported by The Detroit News. "We know that we are not producing as much as we need.

Tavares said the 1.3 billion gas-powered cars on the roads need to be replaced with "clean mobility."

"That will need a lot of lithium," he said, according to The Detroit News. "Not only the lithium may not be enough, but the concentration of the mining of lithium may create other geopolitical issues."

Tavares, long a skeptic of a global transition to electric vehicles, first warned of EV battery and raw material shortages hampering the industry's lofty goals on EVs in May 2022. For Stellantis specifically, Tavares has said that some of the markets the company operates in just don't make sense for EV sales at the moment, citing problems like affordability and lack of infrastructure.

"The affordability is not there, because the raw materials are scarce and very expensive, and I would add very volatile," Tavares said.

Access to cheaper EVs could only be delayed by these industry dynamics.

Still, Tavares has said that the company has big plans for electrification in the next few years. After the US's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and France's PSA Group merged to create Stellantis in 2021, the new company said it planned to spend more than $35.5 billion on developing an array of plug-in models through 2025.

The company is also investing some $2.5 billion in a partnership with Samsung to build the automaker's first EV battery factory in Indiana, slated to open in the first quarter of 2025.

Stellantis is aiming to sell 5 million electric vehicles per year globally by 2030.

The shift to EVs won't be easy

Tavares' comments are just the latest from major industry stakeholders raising the alarms about, and losing faith in, the reality of transitioning to EVs.

Automakers are racing to secure enough raw materials supply, and Stellantis' crosstown rivals Ford and General Motors have penned agreements with lithium suppliers to make sure they'll each have what they need to make good on their EV ambitions, at least for the next couple of years.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has emphasized just how much of a challenge getting these materials will be for EV-makers. Others, like Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe, have been vocal about the looming shortage of not only lithium, but potentially of much-needed nickel, graphite, and cobalt (though automakers are working to rely less on cobalt). Even mining executives have expressed concern that demand for these materials continues to outstrip the current available supply.

While many experts say there are enough resources on earth for the EV industry, many of those have yet to be tapped into, especially in the US. Getting access to those materials (and being able to use them in electric cars) requires costly and time-consuming permitting, construction, extraction, and other processes.

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