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How Are New Energy Vehicles Not Subject To “cobalt”?

- Nov 02, 2018 -

Cobalt dances with new energy cars

Cobalt, the price of this gray-white, unobtrusive metal has skyrocketed, providing investors and speculators with numerous profit opportunities.

On the 2018 Hurun Global Rich List, many rich people from the new energy industry entered, and the cobalt and lithium behind it contributed.

In fact, as early as 2008 to 2016, the price of cobalt has been relatively stable, and even because it was too small, it was once ignored.

So why is there a sudden increase in the near future? It is not difficult to find that the soaring cobalt price and the blowout of the new energy vehicle market have a very close and unified pace.

As an important strategic metal element, cobalt is widely used in the field of battery materials and alloy manufacturing, and is also an essential raw material for ternary lithium batteries. The ternary lithium battery is currently the mainstream of new energy vehicles, and there are no substitutes.

Since the second half of 2016, as countries have successively given timetables for the ban on fuel vehicles, the speed of development of electric vehicles has been greatly accelerated, and the demand for cathode components of cobalt has also risen.

It can be seen that the ternary lithium battery is the biggest power needed to pull "cobalt". In 2016 alone, more than 80% of China's cobalt demand comes from the battery sector.

According to the analysis, it is expected that the demand for cobalt will reach 200,000 tons by 2025.

The data shows that the global proven cobalt resources are 25 million tons and the reserves are 7.2 million tons. The reserves are highly concentrated in the DRC, Australia and Cuba. These three countries account for 70% of the world's total reserves. China's reserves are only 80,000 tons, accounting for 1.1% of global reserves. Nearly 90% of China's cobalt imports are from the Congo.

The scarcity of cobalt is highlighted when compared to the expected demand.

Not long ago, the world's largest supplier of battery raw materials, mining giant Swiss Glencore CEO Ivan G. Glasenberg said: "If all of the cobalt is in the hands of Chinese companies, then do not want to see European production. electric car". It is not difficult to hear that Ivan G. Glasgow’s implication is that whoever owns cobalt has mastered the fate of electric cars.

The “cobalt” that flies in the investment market has been plagued by the new energy auto industry.

Following the oil and rare earths, a battle for "cobalt" is being carried out fiercely in the world. Many car manufacturers and battery manufacturers have also been deployed one after another.

While locating new energy vehicles, BMW and Volkswagen also extended to the cobalt resource end upstream of the new energy vehicle industry chain to ensure the supply of raw materials.

Volkswagen said it is currently pushing for a long-term supply contract guarantee to avoid material shortages. At the beginning of December last year, Volkswagen has invited cobalt raw material producers to talk to Wolfsburg headquarters. BMW is also in talks with suppliers of battery raw materials such as cobalt.

Battery trouble

For a long time, the development of new energy vehicles has been constrained by important factors such as the battery's cruising range and safety. In addition, the high cost of batteries is also a major problem for new energy vehicles.

"Currently, the development and manufacturing investment of power batteries is very high, and the cost of photovoltaic cells may account for more than half of the cost of the car." A professional from Ai Chi Automobile said that this is mainly because the new energy vehicles are still in the market cultivation period, the output is not very large, and the raw material prices required for the batteries are too high, resulting in a very high apportionment cost of the previous investment.

The higher cobalt price has a great impact on battery prices. The professional has calculated an account. Now the cost of 1KWh ternary battery is about 1,200 yuan, and the cost of cobalt is about 10%.

Although the price has gone all the way, it is still difficult to find a "cobalt".

The staff of Huayou Cobalt's sales department, one of the largest cobalt suppliers in China, revealed that it is almost two months before the order is placed, and the payment must be made first.

Therefore, when people are amazed at the "prosperous development" of China's new energy vehicles, there are also voices that a large part of the dividends in China's new energy vehicle market have been taken away by foreign raw material manufacturers.

“The rise in the price of cobalt is actually related to the consciously raising prices of foreign producers.” A securities industry analyst said that the major producers of cobalt are abroad, and the pricing power is also in the hands of foreign producers.

Another industry insider also believes that cobalt resources are still oligarchy at this stage. From the perspective of supply and demand, there is actually no gap in the short-term supply of cobalt, but the seller's market leads to shipments and pricing power at the mine end.

As the world's largest cobalt producer, the Congo (Kinshasa) Parliament has passed a new draft mining law. Cobalt is classified as a strategic metal and will be subject to a 5% patent tax.

Not subject to "cobalt"

Although the battle for "cobalt" has been fierce, some domestic OEMs that produce new energy say that there is no need to worry too much about this.

Although the current price increase of raw materials such as cobalt has been transmitted to power battery manufacturers, there is overcapacity in the domestic power battery, and its battery price has even a slight downward trend. Therefore, automobile manufacturers have not brought about the rise of cobalt prices. pressure.

In addition, with the upgrade of battery technology, many manufacturers have reduced the amount of cobalt to reduce production costs. "Now the 622 or 811 ternary is reducing the proportion of cobalt." The person of Ai Chi Motors pointed out.

The high cost also forces power battery companies to reduce battery energy density while reducing costs. The person admits that "cobalt" as a rare metal will inevitably lead to a sense of tightness. However, the development of the market will definitely find a balance. If the technology relies too much on an unsustainable thing, then this technology will not last long.

The person said: It is irrational for the value of scarce resources like cobalt to be permanently high. The diversification of energy has always been advocated by the state. Many of the technologies nowadays may be the future direction.