How are batteries for electric vehicles made

Resource balance: What raw material requirements do electric cars have?

Electric cars need more and different raw materials

What do the raw material requirements of the e-car mean for the environment? Two measures often occur in a resource assessment: the cumulative, i.e. total, energy expenditure and the cumulative raw material expenditure. In terms of cumulative energy consumption, electric cars do better than vehicles with combustion engines. This is mainly due to the fact that, due to the highly efficient electric motor, they require much less energy to drive (see also the topic "Power Requirements and Networks"). According to Agora Verkehrswende, the use of electric vehicles can save over 1.5 billion tons (t) of crude oil by 2050.

Electric vehicles require more technology metals to manufacture than conventional vehicles. Lithium and cobalt in particular are important raw materials for batteries. Electric motors contain magnets; rare earth metals are usually required for them.

Are there enough raw materials?

Raw material deposits are given in two values: firstly, the reserves, which are the deposits that can be mined with today's technologies at today's market prices, and secondly, the resources. These are the total assumed reserves. Studies show: Even with a rapid global growth in electric vehicles and other electrical devices, the global deposits of the raw materials important for electromobility, such as lithium, cobalt or gallium, clearly exceed the forecast demand. In the short term, however, shortages or price increases can occur - especially for lithium and cobalt.

Extraction of raw materials - regardless of whether it is crude oil or battery raw materials - is often associated with ecological and social burdens. It is therefore important to reduce raw material requirements - through production progress, higher material efficiency, material substitutions if necessary and, last but not least, increased recycling. Such a trend can already be observed in traction batteries. The Federal Government supports research into the economical use and recovery of raw materials and also the reuse of batteries (Second Life). For example, there are now batteries that require less cobalt or no cobalt at all. Industry is also becoming active and is increasingly joining initiatives for sustainable raw material supply (responsible mining). In addition, the European legal framework for batteries is being adapted to make production, use and recycling - i.e. the entire life cycle - more sustainable.