General Motors has inked a new cobalt supply deal with Glencore PLC, a mining company that has dealt with EV leader Tesla in the past, as electric vehicle material availability becomes more unpredictable.
As electric vehicles and the sector’s development continue to heat up, fueled by consumer sentiment that could shift a significant transition away from gas-powered cars, large automakers are stocking up on potential supplies.
This strategy among automakers is especially relevant with EV battery materials, which have swelled to record levels as demand increases. Companies like Tesla, Rivian, and Ford have outlined their strategies for avoiding major bottlenecks in their EV supply chain. Some have transitioned to different battery materials depending on a vehicle’s range rating. Other automakers have attempted to stock up on some materials, including battery metals or semiconductor chips.
GM has chosen to stock up on cobalt, evident in its new deal with Glencore. Tesla secured a deal with Glencore for twelve million pounds of cobalt annually in early 2020. The deal was set to supply Tesla’s Shanghai and Berlin Gigafactories with the metal to avoid a future shortage. Tesla has attempted to shift away from cobalt-dominant cells, and in its 2019 Impact Report stated that its suppliers are required to follow the company’s “Supplier Code of Conduct” and its “Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy” when dealing with controversial metals.
Cobalt is an advantageous material to use in EV batteries due to its ability to regulate cell temperature and help with life cycle length.
GM’s cobalt will come from Glencore’s Murrin Murrin mine in Australia, which is “conformant with the OECD-aligned Responsible Minerals Assurance Process.“ The mined cobalt will be used in GM’s Ultium batteries, which are used in its new lineup of EVs, including the GMC Hummer EV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and Cadillac Lyriq, a joint statement from the companies said.
Both General Motors and Glencore are members of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI).
“GM and our suppliers are building an EV ecosystem that is focused on sourcing critical raw materials in a secure sustainable manner,” GM’s VP of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, Jeff Morrison, said. “Importantly, given the critical role of EVs in reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, this agreement is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management.”
GM plans to have an annual production capacity of one million electric vehicles by 2025.
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