Tesla’s EV sales increase over 35% in 2020 despite Covid-19 setbacks

Delivery and sales from leading US-based electric vehicles (EVs) manufacturer Tesla showed strong growth over the course of 2020 despite the economic setbacks and logistic disruptions triggered by the global spread of Covid-19 and its economic consequences, according to data released by the company on Saturday January 2.

Tesla produced 509,737 and delivered 499,550 EVs during 2020.

The figures show a year-on-year increase in production of around 39.6% and an annual increase in sales of around 35.9%, in line with the company’s guidance.

The company added that production of its Model Y has begun at its factory in Shanghai, with deliveries of the newest model due to begin shortly.

Demand for battery raw materials rosy on EV demand

Lithium carbonate is a critical component of lithium-ion batteries that power EVs. Demand for the raw material is expected to surge in the coming years while EV adoption gains pace across the world.

In October 2020, Tesla announced during its Battery Day its plan to manufacture battery cells in-house to aid its expansion plans.

On December 29, Chinese lithium producer Sichuan Yahua Lithium, a subsidiary of Sichuan Yahua Group, signed a long-term supply agreement for battery-grade lithium hydroxide with Tesla.

Yahua Lithium will provide battery-grade lithium hydroxide to Tesla with a total order volume of $630-880 million from 2021-2025, it said.

Market participants expect demand for lithium hydroxide to increase in the coming years, coinciding with the development of higher performance batteries and vehicles with a longer driving range.

Battery-grade and technical-grade lithium carbonate prices in China, a key market for EVs, bottomed out at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2020 and the upward momentum has continued in December amid a resurgence of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery demand in the country.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was 48,000-52,000 yuan ($7,349-7,961) per tonne on Thursday December 31, up from 45,000-48,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.

The spot price for battery-grade lithium carbonate in China dropped to a multi-year low of 41,000-37,000 yuan per tonne between July 9 and October 8, Fastmarkets historical data shows.

China’s technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate spot market has also trended up recently. Fastmarkets assessed the Chinese technical and industrial-grade lithium carbonate spot price at 40,000-45,000 yuan per tonne on December 31, rising from 39,000-42,000 yuan per tonne the previous week.
The price fell to as low as 30,000-34,000 yuan per tonne between June 11 and July 9, Fastmarkets data shows.

Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price range exw domestic China was at 41,000-46,000 yuan per tonne on Thursday December 31, unchanged week on week but down by 20% from 52,000-57,000 yuan per tonne at the start of 2020.

Fastmarkets’ battery raw materials research team said it sees the relative weakness in hydroxide prices as being temporary and expects fast growth in demand for high-nickel ratio batteries, especially in the Europe and United States market, to absorb the increase in hydroxide supply before too long.

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