2012 Fisker Karma
Fisker's first luxury electric vehicle with extended range, Karma Fisker Automotive

According to Auto News, industry demand for lithium, a light metal used to produce long-lasting batteries ranging from laptops to electric vehicles, is expected to double in the next eight years as the sale of electric vehicles increase.

It doesn't matter who's doing the research, the generated data suggest the same sentiment -- analysts at Dahlman Rose & Co estimate global demands for lithium will double, reaching 300,000 tons by 2020. During a special presentation, Rockwood CEO Seifi Ghasemi announced that if collective electric vehicle sales reach 1 million, then industry demand for battery-grade lithium will double. Considering that Simbol Materials LLC estimates that 3.9 million hybrid vehicle sales, 1.4 million plug-in hybrid sales, and 2.9 million fully electric vehicles sales are expected by 2020, the value of lithium metal will no doubt reach record highs.

Further emphasizing the lithium boom, Byron Capital Markets of Toronto analyst Jonathan Lee said that the effects of lithium demand is already noticeable. The price of lithium have jumped by 35 percent in just 18 months.

Got something to share about the future of lithium metals? Contact us at the "tips" email below

Supporting Lee's observation, Chris L. Shaw, a New York-based analyst for Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. said, "Electric cars are eventually going to become a bigger part of auto sales, and given that they require hundred of times the amount of lithium needed for laptops, that's going to really increase demand." Only 0.1 ounces of lithium is necessary to power a mobile phone or 1 once of lithium for an Apple iPad tablet. However, the amount of lithium necessary for a typical electric vehicle is approximately 50 pounds, or 20 pounds for hybrid drivetrains.

Responding to the latest trend in materials demand, California-based Simbol Materials LLC is planning to build a new Imperial Valley plant located near the Mexican border. In an interview, Simbol CEO Luka Erceg claimed that the new plant would effectively cut the time and cost necessary to extract lithium from salt water.

If the Imperial Valley plant gets built, Simbol could see its output grow from 8,000 tons a year to as much as 64,000 tons by the end of the decade. Erceg claims that the new figure stands to represent 21 percent of global demand.

[Source: Automotive News]