Tesla Hopes to Swap Chinese Graphite for North American Materials

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We’ve discussed in the past the argument that so-called “green” cars are anything but green when compared to gasoline vehicles due to the destructive process of mining the materials with which to construct the battery cells for electric vehicles and hybrids. Chiefly, a major problem is graphite, most of which is currently mined in China, to the harsh detriment of China’s already troubled environment and air quality.

In conscious efforts to negate further pollution of the region, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) says it will source its raw materials destined for its $5 billion battery Gigafactory from North America out of concerns of “a widespread corporate sensitivity about avoiding the use of industrial minerals from global trouble spots such as central Africa,” Bloomberg reports.

Instead, Tesla will aim to find its graphite, cobalt, and other materials from domestic sources. “It will enable us to establish a supply chain that is local and focused on minimizing environmental impact while significantly reducing battery cost,” Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean told Bloomberg.

China has already started closing down graphite mines in efforts to curb its rampant pollution issues. Graphite is a key ingredient for EV batteries, and since Tesla has one of the largest battery packs in the industry today, it boasts one of the most voracious appetites for graphite in the auto sector — at least, in some form. Tesla said that the “vast majority” of the graphite it uses right now comes from Japan and Europe and is synthetic, not mined; the company prefers the synthetic variety, Jarvis-Shean said to the news service.

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