In the quest to secure the raw materials that are required to build next generation automobile batteries and motors, Japan seems to have grasped the importance of locking down supplies now.
A report in the Japanese Nikkei newspaper (subs req’d) says that Japan will loan tens of billions of yen to Bolivia this summer to help them build modern power plants and put solar panels on a hospital. In exchange, Japan will get guaranteed access to Bolivia’s vast supplies of lithium. Sometimes the difference between “bribery” and “help” can be so blurry.
The issue of securing supplies to build the next generation of cars is not only restricted to lithium. Large quantities of rare earth metals are also needed to produce both batteries and high efficiency electric motors. Just recently, the US Congress held a hearing in which a preeminent scientist warned that the US is not taking sufficient steps to secure its own supply of rare earths.
Compared to Japan, the US seems so blase about the issue of securing lithium and rare earth metal supplies. That attitude kind of fits in with our falling standings in the global arena of innovation. Why is it that the US can’t seem to address an issue until we are reacting to a crisis caused by not addressing it in the first place?
Source: Green Car Congress