With sales of hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) predicted to soar into the multi-million range by 2015, it's now becoming quite apparent that a potential shortage in battery-related materials could present some problems. First, there's a reasonable concern that supply of essential battery components (i.e. anodes, cathodes and electrolyte materials) may not be able to keep up with the rising demand. There's also a valid argument suggesting that supplies of natural resources (i.e. lithium and other rare-earth metals) may become increasingly scarce. A shortage of battery components can quickly be remedied by ramping up production, but finding and mining more rare-earth metals could be challenging.

To ensure a stable supply of lithium, the Japanese government will reportedly offer financial and technical assistance to Bolivia, home of the world's largest lithium reserves. The Nikkei newspaper reports that officials from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will head to Bolivia this week to offer aid and technical expertise to help Bolivia boost its lithium production. The Japanese government hopes to work alongside its Bolivian counterparts at a lithium pilot plant that's currently under construction in the southwest region of the country.

By offering aid and assistance, Japan hopes to secure as much of the natural resource as needed for its automakers to produce hybrids and EVs in large amounts. We assume other nation's won't be enamored by Japan's move to hoard vital supplies, and it's not likely that Korea's decision to secure lithium resources will bode well with competing countries.

[Source: Green Car Congress | Image: a hundred visions and revisions – C.C. License 2.0]

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