It is foolish in the extreme to think that changing to plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid cars can provide mobility for the billions of people that might (have) aspire(d) to owning such a vehicle this Century.
We have to look to integrating our transport systems, walking, cycling, driving, busing, railroading, canaling, flying, sailing, to continually reduce the ‘resource intensity’ they impose on our societies.
Critically, we must start to see the mobility that a car provides as a service and not a (sexy) product.
Saudis like to say that the stone age didn’t end for a lack of stones. But could a lack of lithium end the electric car age before it begins?
“Peak lithium” is back in focus, as the New York Times looks at Bolivia’s quest to cash in on the world’s biggest reserves of lithium, a key component in batteries.
Simply put, global automakers and battery makers need to ensure a steady supply of lithium to power the expected electric-car revolution, but Bolivia’s populist government and its embrace of resource nationalism raises a lot of concerns about access to the country’s mineral wealth. TIME recently did a big takeout on Bolvia’s lithium, too.
Concerns about global supplies of lithium are a lot like the debate over peak oil. Some experts believe the huge increase in electric cars will actually strain the world’s lithium supplies in a few years; as with peak oil, “above-ground” factors like Bolivia’s politics may be just as critical as geology.
Other experts figure lithium supplies are ample and exploding demand will just juice more lithium exploration, as happened with oil.
Either way, though, as hybrid and electric vehicles take a bigger share of the market, that threatens to push up lithium prices. That would make batteries, the costliest part of electric cars, even pricier, further threatening the economics of the electric-car revolution.
Bolivia Is in the Driver’s Seat http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1872561,00.html