Fitch Solutions expects nickel demand for EV battery manufacturing to experience an annual average growth rate of 29.2% over 2021-2030—outpacing demand for both lithium and cobalt. This estimate is a significant increase from the market analysis firm’s 2018 forecast, due to upwards revisions in its EV sales forecasts.
Nickel demand will be supported by the metals persisting popularity in battery cathode chemistry, with downside risks caused by concerns over future supply availability, Fitch said.
Fitch bases its forecast on the underlying assumption that NMC 811 cathodes will rise to 80.0% of NMC market share by 2027—effectively raising the average nickel content.
Fitch expects nickel-dominant cathodes to be favored for heavy-duty and long-range vehicles; shortages of Class 1, battery-grade nickel may encourage automakers to explore lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries for mass market vehicles, however.
In February, Elon Musk noted that nickel remains the firm’s biggest obstacle to scaling lithium-ion cell production; Tesla is shifting its standard range vehicles to contain LFP cathodes. In January 2021, Musk stated in an investor call that the company did not have enough battery cells to scale production for new vehicles such as its Semi truck. Tesla intends to use the high-nickel, cobalt-free cathode for its Cybertruck and Semi truck.