Let's do the math.
286 million vehicles are currently registered in the United States.
If all were Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus vehicles, then that's 286 million battery packs, all 50 kWh in size.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, EVs require 24kg of cobalt per 100 kWh of lithium battery capacity.
So that's 12kg per Tesla, or 2,432 kilotons of Cobalt.
|12kg × 286,000,000 = 2,432,000,000kg = 2,432,000 metric tons = 2,432 kilotons|
According to the USGS March 2021 report, 2,290 metric tons of cobalt was extracted, world-wide, with only 1,000 metric tons being metallic, the rest were trapped in oxides, hydroxides, salts, and other compounds.
So that means that at the production levels of March 2021, that would take 88.5 years of global cobalt production, just to meet the demand for US EVs today.
|2,432,000 tons needed ÷ 2,290 tons produced in March 2021 = 1,062.01 months = 88.5 years = 88 years, 6 months|
Nobody else on the planet gets to use any cobalt for nearly the next century... the full capacity of planetary production is used ONLY for EVs in the United States.
It will also take 100+ years of non-stop global Lithium mining to meet ONLY United States EV demand for full fleet conversion.
There are 286 million active vehicles in the United States, and the absolute best production year for Tesla was 300,000 units.
Tesla would have to keep up their all-time-high production for another 953 YEARS just to meet 2021 EV demand.
(That's assuming Tesla are the only ones making EVs. If they only produced 20% of EVs for US electrification, that's STILL 191 YEARS.)
Taking Tesla's 13-year 500,000 TOTAL EV production from the total, then those additional 285.5 million vehicles — if all were the base model of the Model 3 — would require 12.85 Megatons of lithium.
|285,500,000 vehicles × 45 kg of Lithium per 50 kWh = 12,847,500,000 kg = 12.8475 Megatons ≈ 12.85 Megatons|
As the all-time-high global lithium production was in 2019 at around 76.7 Kilotons... this means that we need 168 YEARS of global Lithium mining to meet the 2021 MINIMUM demand for EV batteries, and ONLY for the United States.
|12,847,500,000 kg current MINIMUM EV demand for Lithium ÷ 76,700,000 kg of global Lithium production = 167.50326 years = 167 years, 6 months, 1 day ≈ 168 years|
What if everyone isn't happy with a small passenger car for an EV?
What if everyone continues the (idiotic) trend of buying ever-larger, ever-more-expensive SUVs, crossovers, trucks, and other ungainly gigantic land barges?
So if all 286 million vehicles are instead gigantic SUVs and pickup trucks, then those battery packs would average around 200 kWh, so all numbers above would need to be multiplied by FOUR.
That requires over 350 years to mine enough cobalt, and over 670 years to mine enough lithium.