RIP Combustion Engines – How To Capitalise On The Electric Vehicle Boom

The surgeon is out of the operating theatre, and the prognosis for the combustion engine is not good; its remaining lifespan is firmly capped, and the electric motor stands ready to replace it.

While Elon Musk and Tesla may be stealing all the headlines in the Electric Vehicle (EV) market, don’t let it obscure the bigger picture – the global EV market is surging, and the biggest names in the business are already producing electric cars.

Manufacturers like General Motors, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Nissan, and a host of other big name car makers have committed to EVs comprising a significant proportion of their current and future production. This is driven by predictions that the market for electric cars will grow to up to 20 million by 2020, and up to 70 million by 2025, according to the International Energy Agency. Indeed, many car manufacturers are being forced to adapt to comply with regulatory changes. France, Germany, Britain, Norway and the Netherlands have all announced their intention to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by as soon as 2025.

And it’s not only progressive European states that are moving in this direction, but the world’s two most populous countries too. India has revealed plans to have all of its vehicles switched to battery powered by 2030.

So where is the best opportunity for investors seeking to gain exposure to the electric vehicle market? Well, there are a number of options available beyond stocks in EV manufacturers like Tesla which have proven to be volatile, with production issues and poorly judged public proclamations.

Opportunities for investors in this space include other key, but lesser known, components in electric vehicles. One element that fits the bill is dysprosium, a little known rare earth with 102g required in each EV.

If current passenger vehicle production growth continues increasing at an average of 3.3%pa, as has been the case between 2011 and 2017, the world will be producing more than 97 million new passenger vehicles by 2025, of which 70 million will be EVs each needing those 102g of dysprosium.

Dysprosium is an element that is in extremely limited supply; China presently produces 98% of the global dysprosium supply but Australian miner Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) will be changing that very shortly.

Following the launch of their plant in July, Northern Minerals is on track to become the world’s most important source of Dysprosium by being one outside of China.

With the forecast production figures for electric vehicles, it is no surprise that offtake partners have expressed interest in Northern Minerals, as discussed by Northern Minerals CEO George Bauk in an investor presentation on August 28, attempting to reduce their reliance on China’s one-time monopoly of the dysprosium market as more and more EVs hit our roads.