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Mobility study cites roadblocks for U.S. electric vehicles, sustainable aviation

Tesla electric vehicles are shown at a sales and service center in Vista, California

By Paul Lienert

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Reuters) - Automakers may not be able to build as many electric vehicles as they would like — and consumer demand for those EVs may not materialize as quickly as anticipated — if government and industry do not address and resolve a convergence of issues, a new study released on Tuesday said.

Among those roadblocks, a looming shortage of battery raw materials could put government mandates “in conflict with manufacturing reality” — one of the macro trends charted in the 2023 Moving World Report, published by investment firm UP.Partners.

Obstacles to the acceleration of EV production and demand in the United States include ongoing turmoil in global supply chains, insufficient vehicle charging infrastructure and an overloaded electrical grid, the 120-page report said.

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The report notes that EV battery demand is expected to increase tenfold or more by 2030, but that a “massive dislocation” between demand and supply of key materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel is likely to increase the cost of EVs to consumers — a stark finding as a global price war, ignited by leader Tesla, escalates.

The study is based on dozens of interviews and cites technical and financial data from research studies by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, McKinsey, Silicon Valley Bank, Carnegie Mellon University and others.

In keeping with its focus on “the movement of people and goods on the ground, in the air, at sea and in space,” UP.Partners looked beyond terrestrial vehicles to aviation, where it noted the dramatic rise in cargo drone deliveries in 2022 and a potentially “crippling” shortage of pilots by 2030.

While aviation companies continue to pursue alternative technologies from batteries to hydrogen, Managing Partner Cyrus Sigari said that sustainable aviation fuel is “the only rational pathway” to reducing aviation carbon emissions over the next 20 years.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit. Editing by Jane Merriman)