We must urgently reduce the size of electric cars, otherwise France could find itself in shortage of “critical” metals, warns Thursday, November 8, a study by the NGO WWF, which calls for the establishment of a penalty linked to weight , like other environmental associations. “The ecological transition needs the electric vehicle, but the problem is its size,” said Jean Burkard, director of advocacy at WWF France, during a press conference, stressing that SUVs now constitute 41% of vehicle sales. these vehicles. The problem ? “A large electric SUV consumes 3 times more copper and aluminum and 5 times more lithium, nickel and cobalt than a small electric city car,” reveals the study, while these metals are considered “critical” because they are essential to the entire energy transition but existing in limited quantity.
Demand for rare metals could thus be multiplied by 30 in 20 years. Since they are very little produced in France, this poses “geostrategic risks” according to Jean Burkard, and means that in the event of a shortage, “we will have to choose between having electric vehicles, wind turbines or electrical networks”. In its study, WWF studies three “realistic” scenarios and their consequences: that of “carelessness”, that of “intermediate” and that of “sobriety”, the latter deploying more proactive policies to reduce in particular the size of vehicles. The result is clear: “If we do not adopt this scenario of sobriety”, France's demand for “critical” metals will be between 5 and 15% too high “in relation to its economic weight”, details Jean Burkard.
On the other hand, in the sobriety scenario, demand would be “less than 25%” of the country's economic weight, even paving the way for the export of lithium - a precious metal whose price has soared, from 13,000 to 70,000 euros per year. ton between 2020 and 2021 - “an important asset for the French trade balance”, he points out. To reduce the size of electric vehicles, WWF calls on the government to introduce “a specific weight penalty” and, in mirror image, “to reserve the ecological bonus only for electric cars weighing less than 1.6 tonnes”, compared to 2.4 currently. The association also recommends “requiring car manufacturers to annually publish the average weight of registered electric cars” and creating a European penalty of 5 euros per kilo as soon as the threshold of 1.6 tonnes is exceeded.