US moves to challenge China in battery making

The development of a national electric vehicle (EV) supply chain policy in the US received bipartisan support in the US senate earlier this month.

The legislation is designed to challenge China’s dominance in metals production and battery manufacturing.  

The US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the American Mineral Security Act, with goals to streamline regulation and permissions for the development of mines for lithium, graphite and other materials required for the manufacture of electric vehicles and their batteries.

The legislation, if approved, would require a tally of metal reserves in the US, an inventory which some senators believe is essential. Current estimates from the US Geological Survey (USGS) rely on corporate annual reports, historical data from the US Bureau of Mines and other sources, explained USGS spokesman Alex Demas.

“China has a huge head start,” said Gavin Montgomery, a battery and mining analyst at the Wood Mackenzie consultancy. “They’ve just been at this a lot longer than the rest of the world.”

Indeed, results from the 2019 Electric Vehicle Outlook report, published by BloombergNEF earlier this month, sees China continuing to take the lead in electric cars, accounting for 48% of all passenger EVs sold in 2025 and 26% in 2040, when other markets are expected to be catching up. The report predicts Europe will pull ahead of the US as the number two EV market globally during the 2020s. 

Globally, the report showed that EVs will account for 57% of global passenger car sales by 2040, and electric buses are set to account for 81% of municipal bus sales by the same date.

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