Inexorable decline of EV battery prices coming to an end – report

Mercedes Benz EQC electric SUV. Image from Mercedes Benz.

In a new note, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a price reporting agency and battery supply chain researcher based in London, says battery producers have begun to increase lithium ion cell prices as anode, cathode and other raw material input prices continue to rise.

Nickel sulphate prices are up 34% and cobalt hydroxide nearly 82% over the past year but the biggest culprit is lithium with the price of Benchmark’s lithium carbonate for use in batteries (ex-works China) surging by 313% since this time last year, reaching RMB185,000 per tonne ($28,675 a tonne) in mid-October. 

“Lithium carbonate prices are presently at all-time highs and set to continue on their upward trajectory as demand continues to outstrip supply.”

From nearly $300 per kWh in 2014, prices for lithium ion batteries with nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) chemistries, have declined to close to $100 per kWH this year. $100/kWh is considered a pivotal figure as battery-powered vehicles reach parity with gasoline-powered cars, but Benchmark expects this trend to reverse:  

“Battery makers appear set to pass on lithium price increases to the automotive OEMs and other downstream customers which could have a major impact on electric vehicles coming to market between 2022 and 2024.”