Press Release

Carmakers have secured less than one-fifth of key battery metals, T&E report finds

December 4, 2023

Tesla tops ranking of car manufacturers in the battery supply chain race but trails EU carmakers on responsible sourcing of minerals.

Carmakers in the European market have secured less than a fifth (16%) of the key battery metals they will need until 2030, according to analysis of publicly disclosed contracts. Only Tesla and BYD are doing enough to guarantee supplies of cobalt, lithium and nickel to meet their 2030 sales goals, while most European manufacturers – with the exception of Volkswagen and Stellantis – are far behind. The analysis is part of a ranking by Transport & Environment (T&E) of manufacturers in the battery supply chain based on raw materials secured, cell production, and responsible practices.

Tesla leads the overall ranking on the strength of its raw material and cell production strategies – though it trails several competitors on responsible practices. Volkswagen performs relatively well in all three categories to finish second, just ahead of BYD which tops the raw materials score but falls down on responsible practices because it provides no information about sustainable sourcing. 

Only six companies – Tesla, BYD, VW, Ford, Renault and Stellantis – have long-term contracts for each of the three key metals or plan to change battery chemistries to end their dependence on one of the metals, the research finds. Mercedes has only one publicly disclosed contract for a key mineral while BMW, which opposes the EU’s phase-out of combustion engines, has not disclosed enough information about how it plans to secure nickel, cobalt or cathode materials.

Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility supply chains at T&E, said: “There is a clear disconnect between carmakers’ electric vehicle goals and their critical mineral strategies. Tesla and BYD are way ahead of most European players who are only waking up to the challenge of securing battery metals now. This report should sound the alarm to CEOs and investors to engage further upstream in their supply chains.”

German manufacturers – BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen – are the top 3 carmakers for responsible supply chain practices. Based on the traceability of raw materials, low-carbon processes and protections for human rights and indigenous rights, this is an important metric for consumers and investors. BYD scored zero as no information on any sustainable practice applied by the carmaker was found. 

In a separate ranking, Volkswagen, Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz score best for resilience to supply chain shocks – an important metric as EU trade tensions with China increase. The three companies, along with Renault, are the only carmakers supporting EU start-ups in battery components and minerals processing. T&E said car industry support for the onshoring of refining, cathode production and other components can help scale up green tech in Europe while boosting supply security.

Julia Poliscanova said: “Carmakers’ supply chain strategies will make or break the EV transition in Europe, and render some companies obsolete. Supporting local refining and battery component factories will be critical to their own resilience. But Europeans have a clear lead on the cleaning up the supply chains, which is critical for consumer acceptance and unlocking ESG finance.”

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