Cobalt enjoyed an upward trend in 2017, with prices soaring in expectation of higher demand from the growing electric vehicle (EV) sector.
With carmakers promising to produce an increasing number of EVs, big contracts are on the line, and many of our top cobalt news stories of the year focused on these developments. While Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) was often in the headlines, other auto companies began to steal some of the spotlight.
Read on to see what cobalt news stories grabbed the attention of our investor audience in 2017. Readers were keen to hear about what’s going on with the metal and what experts think could be coming next.
Tesla is always a hot topic in the EV space, and our most-read cobalt news story this year covered a June update from the company. The company’s chief technical officer said at the time that lithium-ion battery production for the Model 3 was underway, and said the cars will use “2170 cells.”
These batteries have been described by Elon Musk as the most energy dense in the world, as well as the cheapest out there. Read the article for more on Tesla’s battery specifications and EV goals.
Volkswagen (FWB:VOW) is preparing to really dive into the EV market, and has a hefty goal of launching 10 new EV models in 2018. In July, major miner Glencore (LSE:GLEN) signed a key cobalt deal with a Chinese firm that will help Volkswagen secure batteries for its cars.
However, all deals aside, analysts are still questioning the security of cobalt supply. How come? The majority of cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area of the world known for political turbulence. Are there any alternatives that can meet this growing demand? In the rest of this article, analysts and CEOs weigh in about whether there are viable options outside the DRC.
Next in cobalt news, automakers made some very big promises at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Luxury vehicle brands BMW (ETR:BMW), Mercedes-Benz, Audi (FWB:NUS) and Jaguar Land Rover disclosed their plans to offer an electric version of every type of their models. When do they expect this ambitious goal to come to fruition? 2025, the carmakers say.
These announcements came after the UK and France disclosed a plan to ban gas-powered vehicles by 2040. With demand amplifying ahead, what does this mean for suppliers? Will China still rule the market or will European cobalt producers be able to create some competition in the market?
Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) made cobalt news when it announced plans to complete a whopping $1.97-billion IPO. The company is doubling down on its investment in battery production with a plan to create two new plants, including a 24-GWh megafactory.
CATL seems to be making a good move, as demand for lithium-ion batteries is predicted to jump to 750 GWh by 2026. In line with this demand, cobalt demand will also grow — but by how much? Read on to find out the big numbers predicted by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
Our last most-read cobalt news story covers Volkswagen’s struggle to secure cobalt supply deals. Talks held at the company’s headquarters were aimed at thrashing out supply deals with major producers, but ended without success. “They are looking for prices below the market, they have a lot to learn about cobalt,” one source told Reuters at the time.
What were your top cobalt news stories this year? Let us know in the comments section.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.