Musk says nickel price is ‘biggest concern’ for electric-car batteries

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the company’s Battery Day (Credit: Tesla)

Elon Musk has had it with nickel.

It’s scarce and expensive, so the chief executive officer of electric-carmaker Tesla tweeted on Thursday that the company’s shifting some cars to a type of battery that uses iron instead.

Musk has previously pleaded with miners to produce more nickel. Supplies will be tight for the next three years, and there could be a significant deficit as early as 2023 as demand picks up, according to BloombergNEF analyst Allan Ray Restauro.

Nickel is a key component in lithium-ion batteries, used in electric vehicles. It packs more energy into batteries and allows producers to reduce use of cobalt, which is more expensive and has a less transparent supply chain.

The London Metal Exchange three-month nickel price was trading at $19,568 per tonne on Friday. The metal has rallied 16% this year on the LME amid a broad-based rally in commodities, with investors betting on strong demand growth as economies reopen. The metal price also rose after the world’s top producer, Norilsk Nickel, announced it had suspended production at two of its mines: Oktyabrsky and Taimyrsky.

Click here for an interactive chart of nickel prices.

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