Elon Musk’s Tesla dominates US EV sales and these are the metals he needs more of
Tesla is hands down the biggest seller of electric vehicles (EVs) in the world’s largest economy, accounting for 81 per cent of the 87,398 EVs sold in the US in the first quarter.
The Model 3 was the most popular, racking up sales of 38,314 for the three-month period.
Second and third in the EV sales race were Tesla’s Model Y and Model X, with sales of 18,861 and 9,500 respectively, according to data from UK investor website Buy Shares.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has famously called on nickel miners to produce more to meet growing demand for the battery metal.
But just which other metals is the billionaire tech icon going to need more of?
The Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable EV at a retail price of $73,900 and requires 50kg of nickel, 4.5kg of cobalt, and approximately 130lbs of copper, according to reports.
Model 3 sales in Q1 for the US market would have accounted for 172 tonnes of cobalt, 2,260 tonnes of copper, and 1,915 tonnes of nickel.
Tesla’s total EV sales in the three-month period would require 321 tonnes of cobalt, 4,208 tonnes of copper, and 3,568 tonnes of nickel.
Companies with exposure to copper include Encounter Resources (ASX:ENR), which has several new discoveries in the Northern Territory, Castillo Copper (ASX:CCZ) and Red River Resources (ASX:RVR).
There are also a number of nickel producers in Australia that are well positioned to benefit from rising sales of EVs.
With the push for a “circular economy” to reduce the waste going to landfill and a shortage of supply of critical minerals, major car and battery makers are turning to recycled material.
Tesla recycled 1,000 short tons of nickel, 320 tons of copper, and 110 tons of cobalt in 2019, according to Tesla’s impact report.
“None of our scrapped lithium-ion batteries go to landfilling, and 100 per cent are recycled,” Tesla said.
Tesla is building a battery recycling system at its Gigafactory in Nevada that will process end-of-life batteries.
“Through this system, the recovery of critical minerals will be maximised along with the recovery of all metals used in Tesla battery cells, such as copper, aluminium and steel,” the company said.
EcoGraf, meanwhile, recovered graphite from a range of ‘black mass’ material from recycled batteries.
Black mass is the residual graphite material remaining after hydrometallurgical processes have recovered the high-value cathode metals from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries and is typically relegated to landfill.