EV acceleration bodes well for metals demand

THE electric vehicle revolution continues to gain speed with UBS and Australian industry joining the chorus.
EV acceleration bodes well for metals demand EV acceleration bodes well for metals demand EV acceleration bodes well for metals demand EV acceleration bodes well for metals demand EV acceleration bodes well for metals demand

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was launched in Australia in 2014.

Kristie Batten

This morning Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg attended the launch in Canberra of the Electric Vehicle Council, a new national body representing the electric vehicle industry in Australia.

The EVC is chaired by TransGrid’s Behyad Jafari, and the board also includes Tesla’s senior marketing and communications manager in Australia, Heath Walker and Mitsubishi Motors Australia national E mobility manager Craig Norris.

The founding members of the EVC are AGL Energy, Tesla, Hyundai, Land Rover, Jaguar, Synergy, RACV, TransGrid, Lennock Fleet, ClimateWorks Australia, ActewAGL, Mitsubishi and Jet Charge.

Speaking at the launch of the EVC this morning, Frydenberg announced that the government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) would provide a A$390,000 grant to ClimateWorks to support the uptake of EVs.

“Passenger vehicles account for around 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions which means if we can reduce emissions in this area, it can help us meet our targets under the Paris Agreement,” he said.

“The uptake rate of electric vehicles in Australia is around 0.1% of new vehicle sales and is projected to increase to 0.3% by 2020 and 15% by 2030 as electric vehicles become more price competitive.

“This would result in more than 12,000 electric vehicles registered in Australia by 2020, and around 1 million by 2030.”

At the event, AGL CEO Andy Vesey said the company would buy 36 Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid EVs to help meet its goal of 10% of its business car fleet being electric by mid-2018.

“We encourage Australian governments and companies to meet or better our EV uptake commitment,” he said.

“If other Australian fleet operators, including government, adopted a 10% target it would result in more than 43,000 EV sales per year and reduce up to 85,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.”

It comes as UBS declared late last week that EVs were approaching the “iPhone moment” faster than expected.

The bank expects the cost of ownership of EVs versus traditional cars should reach parity in early 2019, which would represent an inflection point for demand.

As a result, UBS has lifted its global 2025 EV sales forecast by around 60% to around 15 million vehicles, or 14% of global car sales.

UBS expects lithium carbonate equivalent demand growth to accelerate and reach 40,000-50,000 tonnes per year by 2020-21 after growing by 15,000-20,000t of LCE last year.

Benchmark Minerals Intelligence estimates global LCE demand will reach 400,000t by 2025, which would require around US$5 billion of investment in the sector.

UBS is more cautious on pricing, and expects a compound annual growth rate in lithium prices of around 3%.

It’s not just lithium that will benefit from growing EV sales, as Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg noted last week.

If major countries meet their targets of 13.4 million EVs by 2020, it would equate to an additional 373,000t of annual copper demand and 40,000t of nickel demand.

If EV rates reach 52 million by 2025, metal demand numbers would grow to 1.65 million tonnes of copper and 210,000t of nickel.