Some companies are having more trouble than others, but for Toyota, they have had major problems keeping Prius batteries in stock. This is not Toyota’s fault, Panasonic is the company that makes the battery for the Prius, and they have had major trouble keeping up with Toyota’s demand for 500,000 batteries annually. According to Panasonic, they will be able to produce a million batteries a year by the middle of next year, which should solve the problem.
A major issue for the transportation sector is a possible shortage of processed lithium. Lithium ion batteries are used in many hybrid and plug-in vehicle concept cars, including the hyped-up Chevy Volt. The world reserves of lithium are estimated at 6.2 million metric tons.
Lithium must be processed once it is mined to make it into a form readily usable for auto batteries. It is a dangerous metal to work with; it is highly corrosive when in contact with moisture, and can be harmful if breathed in. Depending on the production demands for Li-ion batteries over the next decade, there could be a shortage if battery manufacturers aren’t able to keep up with carmakers. GLG Energy & Industrials Councils estimates that enough lithium will be processed for 2 million vehicles by 2015.
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