GM says it has battery metals secured as industry frets supply

General Motors chief executive officer Mary Barra. Credit: World Economic Forum via Flickr

Elon Musk may be worried about the shortage of lithium for electric car batteries, but General Motors Co.’s Mary Barra says her company has secured what it needs.

GM’s chief executive officer is confident the automaker will have enough materials to build 400,000 electric vehicles this year and in 2023, and to get to 2 million battery-powered cars a year by 2025. That’s when GM will be ramping up production of about 30 electric models globally.

“There’s tremendous work that has gone on, it’s been going on for well over a year,” Barra said Tuesday on GM’s first-quarter earnings call with analysts. “We’ll continue to announce things not when we start working on things, but when we have signed agreements. This will be a continued competitive advantage for GM.”

Booming sales of electric vehicles have quadrupled the price of lithium and led to questions about supply. Last week, Tesla Inc. CEO Musk made a public appeal for more investment in lithium mining to close what he sees as a yawning gap between supply and demand from the adoption of electric vehicles. He tweeted that he may have to get into mining.

In her letter to shareholders, Barra said GM started early by building long-term relationships in North America and finding stable trading partners like Australia. Those include suppliers of rare earth materials, lithium, as well as a new cobalt agreement. She said GM is still working to secure adequate nickel supplies.

(By David Welch and Gabrielle Coppola)

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