Friday, February 20, 2009

Lithium in Bolivia

For at least 5 years auto makers have been producing hybrid vehicles due to the recent rise in gas prices.  The rise in gas prices have made hybrid vehicles economically viable, but recent conflict in Bolivia, "the Saudi Arabia of lithium" (Quisbert), may cause hybrid prices to rise.  A recent article in the New York Times titled "In Bolivia, Untapped Bounty Meets Nationalism", talks about the growing need for lithium, a vital mineral needed for powering the hybrid vehicles.  According to NY Times almost half of the worlds lithium reserve is located in Bolivia.  What is this going to do for the US's push for foreign oil independence when we now have to rely on foreign lithium?  Bolivia's government is closely regulating the lithium export and "keeping foreigners at bay" (NY Times).  Japanese and European automakers are also pressuring Bolivia for their lithium, which is more competition for US automakers. 
Are hybrid vehicles the way of the future for our automobiles or are they going to be too expensive for automakers to continue to produce due to the shortage of lithium?

4 comments:

David Wogan said...

The article you mentioned brings up some good points. What new resources will be in demand as we move away from the internal combustion engine? Lithium shortages might affect more than just US automakers though, because I would imagine that there are companies who supply the batteries and technologies.

christian said...

I agree, it's not just the automaker that will feel the lithium shortage. I also feel that as the world moves to other source for energy, what impact will this have on current mineral supply such as Lithium. Are photovoltaic panels the solution or will the mineral used to make these panels also run dry as will oil?

christian said...

I agree, it's not just the automaker that will feel the lithium shortage. I also feel that as the world moves to other source for energy, what impact will this have on current mineral supply such as Lithium. Are photovoltaic panels the solution or will the mineral used to make these panels also run dry as will oil?

christian said...

I agree, it's not just the automaker that will feel the lithium shortage. I also feel that as the world moves to other source for energy, what impact will this have on current mineral supply such as Lithium. Are photovoltaic panels the solution or will the mineral used to make these panels also run dry as will oil?