Posted on October 17, 2019 by Charles Morris
Tesla dominates the world’s electric vehicle market by any measure. The company’s Model 3 is currently the best-selling vehicle of any kind in Norway and the Netherlands, and it’s by far the best-selling electric vehicle just about everywhere in North America and Europe.
Above: Tesla's Model 3 (Photo: Casey Murphy, EVANNEX)
It remains to be seen if this year’s spectacular initial sales figures in Europe will be sustained, but there’s little doubt that the California carmaker is poised for more rapid growth. Tesla recently announced record deliveries of 97,000 units for Q3 2019.
While most of us measure automotive success in numbers of vehicles sold, the mining industry tends to consider the EV market in terms of the demand for the various metals used in the vehicles’ batteries. Looked at from this angle, Tesla’s position at the top of the global EV pyramid appears, if anything, even more impressive.
As Mining.com puts it in a recent piece, “Muskmobiles” are “running rivals off the road.” The article draws on a new report from Adamas Intelligence, a research firm specializing in strategic metals and minerals, which details the battery capacity of electrified vehicles sold in the entire global EV market (around 90 countries), as well as the metals used in them.
In the first half of 2019, global EV sales grew by 25% compared to the same period in 2018, and by 98% compared to 2016. The total battery capacity deployed in new passenger EVs in the first half of 2019 was 46.3 GWh - an increase of 89% compared to last year.
Tesla delivered 11 GWh of battery capacity, more than the next three biggest manufacturers combined (Chinese brands BYD and BJEV, followed by Nissan). Adamas noted that Tesla’s dominance in battery capacity has to do with the high capacity of its battery packs - 60 to 100 kWh, compared to the global average of 19.7 kWh.
However, it also has to do with high sales numbers, and Tesla’s total domination is even more impressive when you consider that hybrids and plug-in hybrids still represent 64% of the global electrified vehicle market. The company’s Chinese fortune looks bright when you consider that it is already handily beating two of China’s largest EV-makers, although Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, which is to have a capacity of 250,000 units per year, has yet to begin production.
Adamas notes that legacy US and European automakers are still delivering negligible amounts of battery capacity, while Hyundai’s popular new Kona drove the Korean automaker up the rankings, with a threefold increase in delivered capacity. And as Volkswagen proceeds with plans to invest up to $50 billion in batteries, “it should be just a matter of time before the world’s #1 automaker starts its climb to the top,” write the Adamas team.
As the auto industry gradually moves to electric powertrains, the global market for metals and other commodities will shift with it. Future-minded investors may want to read Adamas’s State of Charge: EVs, Batteries and Battery Materials in its entirety. Among the highlights from the mineral markets: the growth in global sales of lithium paralleled the growth of battery capacity - 89% in H1 2019, compared to the same period in 2018; sales of battery-grade nickel increased by 78%; deliveries of battery-grade cobalt increased by 81%; some 61% of the cobalt came from the Asia-Pacific region, as Chinese cell suppliers shifted from LFP cathodes to cobalt-bearing NCM cathodes.