Volkswagen Escalates Hunt for Cobalt for Battery for Electric Cars

Published Date : Nov 24, 2017

Electric cars are here, but their stay and eventual replacement of fossil fuel vehicles will depend on how we build the battery infrastructure across the world, both economically and environmentally. Volkswagen has stepped-up its efforts for the research and development of battery need for EV, inviting producers and traders of cobalt for talks at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Out of a range of metals currently being tested and used to power electric vehicles, cobalt has performed the best, but as the German automotive giants have found out, buying this critical battery ingredient may not be a cake-walk. Having invited tender back in September 2016, the company has had to relax its demand for discounts for the lack of positive response from the vendors. Currently, the company is in aggressive talks with those who produce materials for electric cars and this fresh invitation is along the same lines.

It must be noted that cobalt, commonly utilized to harden steel, exhibits exceptional electrical conductivity and can be used to produce rechargeable batteries. Various companies have noted this and the demand for cobalt has skyrocketed in the recent past. For Volkswagen, which has set aside a chunk of US$40 billion to be invested on EVs and systems for autonomous-driving, securing a reliable chain of supply is paramount.

Although there are extensive R&D activities currently underway in order to reduce the reliance on cobalt, the element is trading meteorically at the London Metal Exchange and the pattern is expected sustain. Eurasian Natural Resources Corp., Glencore Plc, and China Molybdenum Co. are a few prominent cobalt miners in the world.