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China's electric vehicle sales to reach more than 1.3 mil units in 2020: CAAM

Singapore — China's electric vehicle sales would be more than 1.3 million units in 2020, up 8% year on year, Xu Haidong, the deputy chief engineer of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, or CAAM, said at a recent summit.

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The growth in EV sales would help spur demand for battery metals and lend a strong support to China's battery metals prices, market sources said.

China's EV sales might reach 1.8 million units in 2021, up 40% from a year earlier, Xu said. The confidence in EV sales could be attributed to stable economic growth, continuous stimulus policies on vehicle consumption, and sales promotions by manufacturers, he added.

Individual EV consumption has increased to nearly 70% this year from 20% two years ago. EV sales accounted for about 60% in cities without a limit on vehicle increment, which showed there is still a large room for increasing EV sales to individual consumers, said Ma Chunsheng, deputy director of the vehicle development department with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China's vehicle sales growth might keep stable in the next five years and reach 30 million units by 2025, said Fu Bingfeng, vice general secretary of CAAM.

China's EV sales could reach 6 million units in 2025, S&P Global Platts calculations showed, based on the new energy vehicle industry development plan for 2021-35 that expects sales of new energy vehicles to comprise 20% of total new car sales by 2025.

The output of power batteries -- the main consumer of battery metals -- surged 40.7% year on year and 29.1% month on month at 12.7 GWh in November, according to data released by the China Automobile Power Battery Industry Innovation Alliance.

In November, the output of ternary batteries rose 35.6% year on year and 32.1% month on month to comprise 7.3 GWh of the total, while that of lithium iron phosphate batteries increased 49.3% from a year earlier and 25.1% from a month earlier to comprise the balance 5.4 GWh.

The positive outlook in EV sales and power batteries will continue to boost demand for battery metals like lithium and cobalt metals, market sources said.

Chinese domestic lithium carbonate prices jumped Yuan 4,500/mt ($688/mt) in the week to Dec. 11 to an 11-month high, with sources saying that prices got a boost from short supply, particularly for industrial-grade lithium carbonate, amid rising demand.

Battery-grade carbonate prices were forecast heading toward Yuan 50,000/mt before the Lunar New Year holidays, a few sources said.

Platts assessed battery-grade lithium carbonate up Yuan 4,500/mt on Dec. 11 at Yuan 48,000/mt while lithium hydroxide was assessed Yuan 2,000/mt higher at Yuan 50,000/mt. Both assessments are on a DDP China basis. Lithium carbonate prices are now at their highest level since Jan. 10, having gained Yuan 8,000/mt since the intermittent stop-start uptick that began Sept. 9.