The electric vehicle revolution: Critical material supply chains, trade and development

Benjamin Jones, Viet Nguyen-Tien, Robert J. R. Elliott


The emergence of a mass market for electric vehicles (EVs) offers development opportunities for countries that have abundant resources of cobalt, nickel, lithium, copper, aluminium and manganese. Not surprisingly, developing countries have proposed ambitious plans to expand production of these raw materials. However, an observation from the resource curse literature is that strong institutions are required if they are to mitigate the risk of poorly directed, often excessively procyclical, investment, not least because of the complexity, opacity and price volatility of many raw materials utilised by global EV value chains. This paper examines the outlook for EV demand and associated raw material usage paying attention to the drivers and sensitivities required to assess and track future market transformations. These end use shifts are then placed in the context of the broader supply chain adjustments and trends shaping the demand. For resource exporters, adapting to structural change will require fiscal, regulatory, environmental and institution reforms designed to capture shifting patterns of resource wealth in a way which takes appropriate account of comparative advantages in specific value chains and mitigates adverse environmental and social consequences from their extraction and processing.

Leave a Reply