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Race for Cheaper EVs May Face Years-Long Setback on Metal Costs

Costlier lithium, cobalt and nickel could delay electric vehicles becoming as affordable as conventional cars, BloombergNEF says.

A worker moving a lithium-ion battery pack for an electric vehicle at a Mitsubishi Motors plant last month in Kurashiki, Japan.

A worker moving a lithium-ion battery pack for an electric vehicle at a Mitsubishi Motors plant last month in Kurashiki, Japan.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
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A surge in battery metal prices means it could take several years longer for electric vehicles to become as affordable as conventional cars, according to BloombergNEF.

Prices of lithium, cobalt and nickel have soared in the past year, eating into EV makers’ margins at a crucial point in the development of the burgeoning industry. With demand climbing, they now face a dilemma: swallow the incremental costs, or try passing them on to consumers.