Lithium Prices Soar As Tesla, Apple And Google Fight For Supply

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is gaining serious momentum.

According to experts’ projections, demand for electric vehicles should rise at a 21.1% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) until 2026.

The extraordinary demand that is forecast for EVs over the next five years has now begun to trigger a massive disruption in the global energy markets.

As demand for EVs continues to move higher, the demand for lithium – the critical component needed for the batteries that power all those EVs – is also projected to climb higher.

According to Roskill Information Services, “lithium chemical demand from end-use sectors is expected to increase year-on-year to around 280,000 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent.”

These projections have already begun to have a profound impact on the price of lithium in the marketplace.

Lithium prices declined from 2018 through the end of 2020, but since December 1, 2020 the price of lithium has soared 71.24% — and could be poised to climb even higher.

With rising lithium prices and soaring projected demand, what are some of the best ways for investors to play this EV-powered trend for maximum upside potential?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a leader in Big Tech’s sustainability push…but it’s more than just that. From the products themselves, to the packages they came in, and even the data centers powering them, Apple has gone above and beyond to cut the environmental impact.

But now, it’s even getting into the transportation business. “We’re focusing on autonomous systems. It’s a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects. It’s probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on.” Apple CEO Tim Cook on Apple’s plans in the car space. Electric vehicles aren’t likely to be left out, either…

Apple’s rumored car design means that more active material can be packed inside the battery, giving the car a potentially longer range. Apple is also examining a chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate which is inherently less likely to overheat and is thus safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is a tech giant that creates everything from software to hardware and more. This is important because not only does it help companies with exploration of minerals, it relies on them just as much. Microsoft is a company that is also going above and beyond in its emissions goals, aiming to be carbon neutral in the next ten years. A feat that will not be an easy task for such a massive technology corporation. Why does that matter in the lithium race? Because the green energy boom will be destroyed without the vital metal

That’s why Bill Gates’ tech giant has made numerous investments in clean energy across the globe. From Ohio to the Netherlands, Microsoft is pouring millions into solar and wind projects to not only help reduce its own carbon footprint but also help neighboring communities do the same.

In addition to its investments and green operations, Microsoft is also getting into the auto-game. Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based infrastructure and edge computing is going to be pivotal in this new industry. Not only will it allow automakers to analyze data and optimize their products, but it will also give them the opportunity to conduct advanced tests and simulations to fine-tune their software in risk-free environments. It’s even partnering with leaders in the auto industry such as Renault and Audi.

Mark Everest, Information Systems Development Manager, Renault Sport Formula One Team noted, “There are so many factors that are constantly changing and can affect race strategy: track temperature, tire performance, what the other drivers are doing. Simulation helps us quickly understand how to configure the car for a particular track.”

Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) has made major progress towards a more sustainable tomorrow. And as a chipmaker, it is reliant on the production of key metals and minerals such as copper and lithium. But what makes NVIDIA even more special is that it is tackling the ESG trend on all fronts. In fact, it was ranked as one of the world’s top 100 companies to work for due to its incredible working conditions, hiring practices and professional development programs. In addition to its ranking as one of the world’s top companies to work for, it was also ranked on MIT Tech Review’s 50 Smartest Companies list and the Human Rights Watch’s Corporate Equality Index.

Not only is Nvidia a role model for companies in its social and governance stance, it is also firmly committed to building a greener future, as well. From its push to use renewable energy in its day to day operations to its innovative technological advancements in chipmaking which reduce the amount of energy needed to power devices, Nvidia is checking all boxes for impact investors.

This year, Nvidia has done something that many other companies have struggled to do. Not only has it stayed afloat in one of the most trying years in recent history, it has thrived. Since January 2020, Nvidia’s share price has increased from $293 to $525, representing a noteworthy 80% increase in value.

While electric vehicles are the talk of Wall Street right now, autonomous vehicles are on the horizon as well, and they too will rely on a number of key metals and resources. And the leader in this push is Waymo, a subsidy of tech giant Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL). Waymo may just be the de facto leader in the emerging autonomous vehicle industry. It’s already had cars driving themselves across the United States for several years. In fact, in Arizona alone, Alphabet’s self-driving cars have logged over 6.1 million miles. To put that in perspective, that means that Alphabet’s autonomous cars have driven the distance between New York City and San Francisco over 2100 times. Or, as the company explains, “over 500 years of driving for the average licensed US driver.” Even more impressive, however, the vehicles were only involved in 47 “contact events”, and the vast-majority of the collisions were the result of human error and none resulted in any sort of severe injury for anyone involved.

While these tests are extremely promising for Alphabet’s Waymo, there are still some hurdles to overcome. First and foremost, these lengthy trials took place in Phoenix, a city not exactly known for extreme weather. Second, an issue that may frustrate many drivers, the vehicles operated in a sort of hyper-cautious mode, driving at slower speeds and taking sometimes unnecessary precautions to avoid conflict.

While Alphabet’s Waymo gets a lot of credit for these massive accomplishments, a widely loved and wildly popular chipmaker is at its core. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Waymo teamed up way back in 2017, and have worked together to fine tune their technology together ever since. Through their mutual knowledge of hardware and software, the tech giants have made leaps and bounds towards building the car of the future.

In addition to its efforts with Waymo, Intel has also been on the forefront of developing its own artificial intelligence and vision hardware. Back in 2017, it acquired MobileEye, a supplier of camera-based chips and software to the global mobile industry. And now, in a new deal with Luminar, another emerging tech company on the forefront of this movement, Intel is positioning itself as its own giant of this new sector.

Canada’s Silicon Valley is all in on the sustainability race, too. Shopify Inc (TSX:SH) Canada’s own e-commerce giant helps users build their own online stores. It has huge clients – everyone from Tesla to Budweiser are on board. And the company is beloved by millennial investors. In addition to its revolutionary approach on e-commerce, Shopify is playing an increasingly active role in creating a greener tomorrow. It has committed to spending at least $5 million annually to help combat climate change. It’s even making cuts throughout its own operations, decommissioning its data centers and sourcing renewable power for its buildings. Thanks the these efforts, Shopify has posted a return of 137% this year alone, and is showing no signs of slowing.

The Descartes Systems Group Inc. (TSX:DSG) is a Canadian multinational technology company specializing in logistics software, supply chain management software, and cloud-based services for logistics businesses. Recently, Descartes announced that it has successfully deployed its advanced capacity matching solution, Descartes MacroPoint Capacity Matching. The solution provides greater visibility and transparency within their network of carriers and brokers. This move could solidify the company as a key player in transportation logistics which is essential-and-often-overlooked in the mitigation of rising carbon emissions.

Another way to get some indirect exposure to the booming tech, EV and mineral industries is through AutoCanada (TSX:ACQ), a company that operates auto-dealerships through Canada. The company carries a wide variety of new and used vehicles and has all types of financial options available to fit the needs of any consumer. While sales have slumped this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AutoCanada will likely see a rebound as both buying power and the demand for electric vehicles increases. As more new exciting EVs hit the market, AutoCanada will surely be able to ride the wave.

Burcon NutraScience Corporation (TSX:BU) is a Canadian tech firm rethinking the our diets. And while that may not seem exciting for minerals investors, it is a key stock to watch in the wider sustainability boom. With a focus on high-purity, sustainable, flavorful, and affordable products, Burcon has checked every box in the consumer’s book. Founded way back in 1998, the company has been at the forefront of the movement for over two decades, and it’s only become more refined since.

According to its mission statement, Burcon “seeks to improve the health and wellness of global consumers through the discovery and development of sustainable, functional and renewable plant-based products for the global food and beverage industries.”

Mogo Finance Technology Inc. (TSX:GO) is a new spin on unsecured credit, which is a burgeoning sub-segment of FinTech. Providing loan management, the ability to track spending, stress-free mortgages, and even credit score tracking, Mogo is at the forefront of an online movement to assist users with their financial needs.

Mogo’s software analyzes borrowers instantly and greatly reduces the traditionally cumbersome underwriting process for loans. It’s online only, so there’s very low overhead and a ton of cash to spend on marketing. Labeled as “the Uber of finance” by CNBC, Mogo is definitely turning heads.

With increasing membership growth and revenue lines continuing to improve, and a platform which many banks have failed to offer, Mogo could well become an acquisition target in the near future.

By Jody Wilson