Critical Metals Demand for Electric Vehicles: Towards Sustainable and Fair Transport

Accelerating the transition to clean electric transport.

 As countries race to decarbonize their economies, a rapid transition to electric vehicles is vital. Metabolic, Copper8 and Leiden University undertook an analysis of the critical metals needed to hit Dutch electric vehicle targets for 2030. Following a similar analysis in 2018 on the materials needed for renewable energy, the report analyses supply chains and makes a number of recommendations, so countries like the Netherlands can plan how to use an appropriate share of critical metals all countries need access to in the transition to a clean economy. 

  • Partners: Copper8 and University of Leiden
  • Date: October 2019
The challenge

A transition from fossil-fuel powered cars to electric vehicles is a key part of global efforts to address the existential threat of climate change. The Netherlands aims to deploy 1,900,000 electric vehicles by 2030, up from 142,000 electric cars on the road in 2018. To meet climate targets for 2030 and 2050, it is important that the country has access to sufficient critical metals used in electric transport, and to ensure that it only consumes a fair share so the building blocks of a green economy are available to all. 

The challenge
Our approach

Metabolic, Copper8, and Leiden University studied supply chains and found that meeting Dutch targets would consume 1% to 4% of global production of six critical metals currently used in electric vehicles, when its “fair budget” of these metals would be 0.9% at most. The metals include nickel, praseodymium, neodymium, cobalt, dysprosium and lithium. The study authors developed three scenarios for future transport options: using future mobility concepts such as self-driving cars and digital platforms to reduce cars on the road, reducing the size of batteries, and developing new battery technologies that rely on alternative materials. 

Our approach
The outcome

The study authors recommend a range of measures that would help the Netherlands make the transition to electric transport without exceeding a fair share of critical metals. These include: new mobility concepts with fewer vehicles, avoidance of infrastructure lock-ins, using smaller batteries for regional solutions, transparency in metal supply chains, increased battery recycling, and development of alternatives to under-pressure metals.

The outcome

“Working towards a future with fewer vehicles, we need to redirect finances from the development of additional road infrastructure to more efficient use of our infrastructure and vehicles.”

- Sybren Bosch, Copper8 consultant

Industries Team Lead


For more information about this project, please get in touch.