The global market for electric vehicle (EV) powertrain materials is forecast to hit a high of $47 billion (£35.5bn) by 2030.
A new report from IDTechEx suggests traction batteries and motors will see a “meteoric rise” in demand as wide-scale EV adoption ramps up, causing demand to soar across a number of markets which otherwise would see only modest future growth.
It highlights EV manufacture requires a great deal of materials such as nickel, cobalt, aluminium, lithium, copper, insulation and thermal interface matter, which would not generally be needed in such large amounts or at all in internal combustion engine vehicle production.
The study acknowledges that as technology advances and energy density can be increased, this may lead to a decrease in the amount of battery pack materials being used per vehicle, but notes this is “likely to be overshadowed” by the total market increase for EVs.
As well as battery demand rising, the need for electric traction motors is also forecast to increase rapidly over the next 10 years, not just from the overall vehicle sales but also with the rise of vehicles using more than one motor, specifically in premium cars and heavy-duty vehicles, further driving up demand for related materials.
The study states: “Another key question in motor design comes from recyclability. Often overlooked at the development stage, when a motor/vehicle reaches end of life, is it easy to remove the expensive, critical materials used in the magnets or windings?
“Most current designs do not take this into account and whilst we are seeing some manufacturers switching to motors with less expensive or easier to recycle raw materials, the vast majority of the market is focussing on incremental improvements to the efficiency of current designs.”