Why Tesla Motors Would Not Be Interested In Building A Lithium Battery Plant In Bolivia

Por: Juan Carlos Zuleta Calderón

Version Español

Summary

  • The manager of the state lithium project in Bolivia has just made the surprising announcement that Tesla Motors might be interested in building a lithium battery plant in Bolivia.
  •  But he has also introduced a great deal of confusion by indicating that it would be an association with a Canadian firm to make a plant for Tesla’s vehicles.
  •  Lastly, he informed that five other foreign firms are interested in installing the plant as well.
  •  In this contribution, I analyze these intriguing pieces of information casting serious doubts on the real viability of any of those projects.
  •  The article closes with some remarks on other possibilities for Bolivia to industrialize its lithium while expressing concerns about the considerable delays of the project boosted by the government. T he manager of the state lithium project in Bolivia is full of surprises (or perhaps confusions). He was first found in recent hours saying that nothing more than Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) had expressed its interest in building a lithium battery plant in Bolivia. But he then added: “It’s an association with a Canadian company, the plant is North American. It’s for Tesla’s vehicles, but it’s interested in making a battery plant here for those vehicles.” Lastly, he told that five foreign companies, two from Russia, two from Australia, and one from Japan, are also interested in installing the plant. In what follows, I will try to disentangle such intriguing pieces of information. Let me begin by saying that I highly doubt Tesla Motors is interested in building a lithium battery plant in Bolivia anytime soon. Why? I can think of two reasons. One, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO has already expressed that lithium in a lithium ion battery is (only) “like the salt of the salad.” Moreover, to him, “lithium in a salt form is virtually everywhere … there is definitely no supply issues with lithium.” Here I have asked myself: Is Musk downplaying lithium for strategic motives? Chances are he is, since he would otherwise be missing the crucial point of the discussion, namely that no matter how little lithium is required in a Li-ion battery, there simply can’t be such advanced energy storage systems without lithium.

 * Version en espanol del articulo “Why Tesla Motors Would not Be Interested in Building a Lithium Battery Plant in Bolivia”, publicado el 14 de noviembre de 2016 en el sitio bursatil Seeking Alpha (Vease: http://seekingalpha. com/article/4023123-tesla-motors-interestedbuilding- lithium-battery-plant-bolivia?v=14791 61571&commenter=1&comments=show).