Tesla is poised to benefit from rapidly dropping lithium prices, particularly in China, where the automaker produces nearly half of its vehicles.
No element has become more synonymous with electric vehicles than lithium. None of the modern batteries that make electric vehicles possible could exist without lithium. Hence, the price of EVs has become intertwined with the cost of lithium, which has slowly become cheaper thanks to massive investments worldwide. Now, according to Reuters, lithium prices have hit all-time lows in China, following similar movements in North America and Europe.
China’s lithium market reached just 260,000 yuan ($38,079) per ton today, less than half its price from November last year. Giving context to this fall, Reuters pointed out that analysts expected the price of lithium in China to fall to only 300,000 yuan by the end of the year.
Several factors have likely helped push Chinese lithium to its meager price. Foremost, the Chinese government recently ended incentives for electric vehicles, which has slightly slowed their adoption in recent weeks. Second, Chinese lithium faces more competition than ever before, particularly from the New World, where lithium extraction and refining capabilities have skyrocketed.
South America, which is by far the most lithium-dense continent on the planet, has seen its lithium extraction capabilities grow, particularly in Chile, where countless new projects are looking to capitalize on the massive amount of surface brine that can easily be converted into solid lithium. Meanwhile, in North and Central America, corporations and governments alike have doubled down on lithium investments, especially as the United States looks to decouple itself from Chinese supply.
In turn, this price movement in China and the Americas has had a similar effect in Europe, though that effect has been more muted.
But how could this affect Tesla pricing?
With Tesla’s most significant vehicle production cost still being the battery, there is no doubt the business will benefit dramatically from the falling price of one of its core elements. Furthermore, as Tesla still leads the auto industry in terms of profit margins, it has the most flexibility regarding its vehicle pricing.
If Tesla does institute another price cut thanks to this lithium price movement, it could very well upend the industry that the American automaker’s price cuts have already rattled at the beginning of the year. However, it remains unclear how much more space other automakers have to move regarding the price of their EVs, which is already unprofitable for many.