The EV revolution: The road ahead for critical raw materials demand

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  • University College London
  • Faraday Institution


Mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is anticipated in the years ahead, driven primarily by policy incentives, rising incomes, and technological advancements. However, mass adoption is predicated on the availability and affordability of the raw materials required to facilitate this transformation. The implications of material shortages are currently not well understood and previous research tends to be limited by weak representation of technological change, a lack of regional disaggregation, often inflexible and opaque assumptions and drivers, and a failure to place insights in the broader context of the raw materials industries. This paper proposes a CoMIT (Cost, Macro, Infrastructure, Technology) model that can be used to analyse the impact of mass EV adoption on critical raw materials demand and forecasts that, by 2030, demand for vehicles will increase by 27.4%, of which 13.3% will be EVs. The model also predicts large increases in demand for certain base metals, including a 37 and 18-fold increase in demand for cobalt and lithium (relative to 2015 levels), respectively. Without major changes in certain technologies, the cobalt and lithium supply chains could seriously constrain the widespread deployment of EVs. Significant demand increases are also predicted for copper, chrome and aluminium. The results also highlight the importance of China in driving demand for EVs and the critical materials needed to produce them.

Bibliographic note

© 2020 The Author(s)


Original languageEnglish
Article number115072
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date9 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020


  • Decarbonisation, Electric vehicles, Metal, Mined commodities