Hybrid Car Future Hinges on Bolivia's Lithium

The next generation of hybrid and electric cars depends on lithium ion batteries—but the world’s biggest supply of lithium is controlled by a socialist country with no great love for the United States.

When representatives from the Obama administration visited the Washington Auto Show yesterday, their message was clear: The President hopes to make the United States a major player in lithium ion battery technology and manufacturing. Backing up their words is $2 billion of stimulus money that the administration wants to dedicate to the development of advanced batteries for fuel-efficient cars.

Lithium ion batteries—which can pack more energy and power with less weight and space—are seen as the key to the next generation of hybrid and electric cars. And those battery-powered vehicles, in turn, are seen as the key to reducing American’s dependence on foreign oil and reducing carbon emissions from vehicles. As global car companies and battery makers scramble to take the lead on this technology, there’s a question of where the lithium carbonate that makes these batteries possible will come from, and at what cost. That may dictate whether or not hybrids and EVs ever become more than niche products.

Bolivia says it hopes to one day be the world’s leading producer of lithium, and with at least 73 million metric tons waiting to be mined, the country is positioned to follow through. Representatives from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, and Bollore—a French electric car maker—have all contacted the Bolivian government in the hopes of hammering out agreements to buy the raw material.

But these companies have all been rebuffed. Bolivia hopes to use its suddenly vital natural resource to join its closest ally Venezuela, as a major player on the geo-political scene. Its silver and tin mines were once pillaged by imperialists, according to President Evo Morales, an unabashed socialist and nationalist who has no plans of signing away his country’s wealth to foreign interests for nothing.

And that’s just what Toyota and Mitsubishi found when they first contacted Bolivia about an agreement. “All they wanted to do was carry away the raw lithium carbonate,” said Luis Alberto Echazu, the country’s minister of mining and metallurgy, in an interview with Time magazine. “That’s not what we’re after.”

The Saudi Arabia of Lithium

Morales would like to maintain government ownership of the lithium mines and be able to influence lithium prices in the same way that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Saudi royal family influence the oil market.

All of this is obviously a thorn in the side of mining companies, who would prefer to establish advantageous long-term production agreements, and battery makers who would like to see prices for the commodity driven down by an open market. Battery cost remains a major stumbling block for hybrid and electric car makers.

Over the long run, Morales will probably have to meet these interests half way. While it’s true that Bolivia’s lithium resources are valuable, the country currently lacks the capital or infrastructure to develop lithium ion batteries on its own—no matter how much it threatens to do so. Furthermore, large reserves are known to exist in Tibet and are already being mined in Argentina and Chile.

But without access to increasingly large supplies of the raw lithium carbonate needed to produce enough lithium ion batteries for millions of cars every year, the hybrid and electric car revolution threatens to be stuck in neutral.


  • PatrickPunch

    The lithium belongs to Bolivia and not to the US or another country. So pay a fair price for it.

  • crookmatt

    There seems to be a catch 22 here…

    The problem with lithium based batteries are that they are too expensive be economically viable in automobiles, yet the problem with Bolivia is they want more money for their lithium.

    From the article:
    “Battery cost remains a major stumbling block for hybrid and electric car makers.”

    and
    “Morales would like to maintain government ownership of the lithium mines and be able to influence lithium prices…”

    The problem here is Bolivia is choking off the supply of lithium even as uses for it are just becoming available, and as the research is just now making LiON batteries viable. If they are not careful the rest of the world will look to other technologies, or simply develop other technologies that do not require lithium. We have not become dependent on lithium yet (like we have on oil) so we can still switch to other technologies fairly easily. (In fact lithium is not yet widely used in hybrid vehicles.)

    Bolivia would be wise to sell their lithium at the fair market price. If the don’t the world will simply find something else and their lithium will become worthless.

  • Joe kaffir

    Sure, and just who DICTATES this FAIR prices, world geniuses like you and Morales?

  • Ross Nicholson

    Lithium’s good, but it is not the only material useful in making batteries. America needs to surcharge ‘government run’ company products, particularly those of cartels.

  • Joe

    To HE LL with Lithium! and go with HYDROGEN, More clean Nuclear to power or solar or wind farms to power them. I can see the United States being dependent on Boliivia. Enough of our money leaving our country. Laptop batteries only last three years. The great hype of Lithium batteries!

  • Lwgreenwood@yahoo.com

    No real shortage of product for batteries. Develope the market and there is supply! Tibet, Canada. Bolivia or even Nevada and North Carolina have supply. Most product is used in cement as additive.
    It’s just like sand. Cost is determined by traditional markets and production/transportation costs.

  • Mike77

    Patrick- “The lithium belongs to Bolivia and not to the US ” that could change in about 24 hours if the US wanted to invade Bolivia. Don’t forget that in the negotiation.

  • kito

    first of all hes not the evil monster the western media makes him out to be…hes taking care of his country and his people. Many other latin american countries including Bolivia have been ravaged and ripped off by corporations and greedy nations for many many years, this has to stop. Evo Morales is a left wing democracy like many latin american countries are now and they are doing a hell of alot better than the great “neo conservative right wingers”. Just because these countries dont give away their natural resources they are considered socialists, communists or even terrorists by “some”…..it really is pathetic.

  • perfectapproach

    I’m surprised that a country like Bolivia has room to be greedy about their natural resources. Lithium clearly doesn’t HAVE to come from Bolivia. There are lots of other places — more US-friendly places — where we can get Lithium.

    The US is struggling to get away from its dependence on foreign oil. We’re not doing that because of the environment, or the price of gasoline, per se, although those are good reasons. We’re doing it because we depend heavily on it, and non-US-friendly countries control it’s output based on political motivations.

    I seriously doubt that Bolivia wants more money. I think that Bolivia wants the same kind of control over the US that OPEC currently has. It really is too bad that this won’t work. I think our current administration is too smart to let this happen. We’ll still get our Lithium. And Bolivia will continue to be “just another small South American country.”

  • The Man

    The market dictates prices, not arrogant, ignoramus dictators like Morales.

  • John K.

    “Furthermore, large reserves are known to exist in Tibet and are already being mined in Argentina and Chile.”

    Good ol’ free market capitalism to the rescue! :-)

    Also, IIRC, EEStor isn’t dependent upon Li. If they don’t deliver a working product in 2009, then I’ll start to worry.

    Until then, articles like this are mere fear-mongering.

  • Charles

    If I were in Morales’ position I would want a contract to mine and process the lithium. I would even want at least one battery production plant.

    Bolivia needs good jobs that will last. Mining will only last as long as lithium is needed and Bolivia has supplies. If as part of the deal, Bolivia gets infrastructure built, then when the mining jobs run out, the other created jobs can continue.

    If Bolivia builds a good education and health care system with the funds from the lithium, then Bolivia can win in the long term. If this is just trying to more money for the greedy, then Bolivia will just be the next Nigeria.

  • lasmith794

    Oh joy, let’s get dependent on yet another unstable country. That’ll work. (I still think hydrogen is the future, once all the kinks are worked out.)

  • AP

    Morale: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    Morales: Your country needs a less corrupt government, like most other Latin American countries.

  • Boom Boom

    Corruption in South American governments has always been spurred by outside nations/companies trying to get a resource. Morales and Boliva have the same problems as many other poor countries, and I think it is commendable that Morales is willing to leverage his resources to get a better deal (instead of just selling everything off the way it has always been in the past). When the market needs it, Bolivia will allow export of it’s resources. Hopefully it will be fairly and sustainable compensated for the export. This is no more than Americans would ask of anyone else.

  • B Noel

    To those proponents of hydrogen powered cars:
    I remember reading this article (http://www.efcf.com/reports/E21.pdf) right as I started graduate school in 06. I was a proponent of hydrogen fuel cells, and I did know that storage was an issue, but I had no idea the potential energy cost. I also had lofty goals of developing novel solar cell devices as a PhD student in electrical engineering. One major problem that is overlooked in the development of alternative sources of energy is the actual capital energy cost. Economics can dictate whether someone will build a wind farm, solar farm, nuclear plant, etc., but what’s more interesting is not the calculation of how long it takes to make the money back, but how long it takes to make the initial energy investment back. At any rate, a hydrogen economy wouldn’t work, as the overall energy efficiency of the system would drastically decrease. Plug in cars are best, because electric machines are highly efficient, and would introduce a small decrease in overall efficiency from power generation to consumption.

    By the way, I dropped out of the PhD program with a master’s and now I work on nuclear power plants. Seems like a much easier way of making a dent in this whole alternative energy field, rather than going down the dead end path of solar cells.

    To those self-loathing America haters backing Evo Morales:
    Its good to see so many others pointing out that a free market indeed sets the fairest price. The only thing that nationalization of a natural resource does is create an artificial market that makes it harder for all of us to come to fair terms and lift the host nation out of poverty. If Morales wants to charge taxes, that’s fine, but price and production fixing – we do not need to create an OLEC.

  • kito

    america cant control bolivia or any other south american country any more…now more than ever with the creation of una sur, south american countries are realizing that they dont need the US and lets not forget that everything that the US does is politically motivated, so whats the problem with other countries doing the same now?? ohh wait, its not nice when somebody else does it to the US- haha

  • Tim DH

    You can keep on hoping hydrogen will be the ultimate answer but personally I’ve come to realize it will not happen in our lifetime.

    For years to come I foresee a blend of gas and electricity with electricity being the dominant force for personal mobility in maybe 20 to 40 years. And in that time the US will have imported tons of Lithium batteries. Now correct me if I’m wrong but can Lithium batteries be recycled? If so maybe in 20 years the largest deposit of lithium will already be here in the form of recycled batteries. I once heard that the largest deposit of copper in the world is under the streets of NY City, likewise for lithium if we can get it here in the first place. Maybe I’m wrong, I’m just along for the ride.

  • Samie

    No need to get all worked up about what Morales is doing. He is playing a game of poker, that is trying to get the most value out of his product that should be no surprise. Eventually like the article said they will meet half way b/c Bolivia does not have capital to mine it themselves but laugh at this what old Morales probably wants to do is sign short-term guarantees with likes of Toyota so when Bolivia can take over producing Li they will, that’s an old socialist trick but they will also seek a OPEC type partnership with some other countries to help control world prices of Li. Like what others said they will not be to greedy b/c technology can find ways to jump over Li if one is not careful.

  • AlP

    To B Noel.

    Extract from:
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf116_processheat.html

    Hydrogen from nuclear heat

    Several direct thermochemical processes are being developed for producing hydrogen from water. For economic production, high temperatures are required to ensure rapid throughput and high conversion efficiencies.

    In each of the leading thermochemical processes the high-temperature (800-1000°C), low-pressure endothermic (heat absorbing) decomposition of sulfuric acid produces oxygen and sulfur dioxide:

    H2SO4 ==> H2O + SO2 + 1/2O2

    There are then several possibilities. In the iodine-sulfur (IS) process iodine combines with the SO2 and water to produce hydrogen iodide which then dissociates to hydrogen and iodine. This is the Bunsen reaction and is exothermic, occurring at low temperature (120°C):

    I2 + SO2 + 2H2O ==> 2HI + H2SO4

    The HI then dissociates to hydrogen and iodine at about 350°C, endothermically:

    2HI ==> H2 + I2

    This can deliver hydrogen at high pressure.

    The net reaction is then:

    H2O ==> H2 + 1/2O2

    All the reagents other than water are recycled, there are no effluents.

  • arnold

    Bolivia holds 50% of the worlds lithium, lithium it is not only the lightest metal know, it also has medical attributes, we can not compare Bolivia to Saudi Arabia, Saudia Arabia is a greedy country that amassed a great fortune by manipilating the oil market. Bolivia on the other hand was robbed of thier large reserve of silver by Spain, was robbed of their copper mines by Chile, the forest and lumber is being exported by brazilians illegally entering the unprotected borders.
    As we speak, natural gas is sold to Brazil and Argentina for 1/10th below US prices.
    About Morales, This is the only president in Bolivian history that reduced payroll for himself and ministers of the government, this is the only president that did not steal the little money coming from gas reserves.
    About lithium reserves: Ideally will be great doing business with the US as a primary trade partner, as someone said, the market is based in supply and demand and right now Japan, Taiwan and some European countries are paying top dollar for Lithium, I believe if the US is able to reach an agreement wit the Bolivian government, will benefit the most as it could became the world”s dominant in producing battery operated cars.

  • MJ77

    Bolivia needs the United States. They still rely on BILLIONS of foreign aid to run their country. In addition the United states is the biggest importer of Bolivian goods.

    There is not a country in the world that doesn’t NEED the United States if they want to improve their current standard of living.

  • zonajo

    Countries are learning that it is better to provide finished products than raw materials. If automakers are anxious to get their hands on lithium batteries, they may just have to be supportive of Bolivia developing its lithium battery industry. Evo is right not to just hand it over for nothing.

  • Jon Brown

    How dare they refuse to be exploited! Do they not know who WE are? We are the US of F’ing A and we will pay them pennies for our lithium inconveniently located in their country and they will like it.

    Oh, alright, we’ll be charitable and double thier daily wages to $2, now gives us the Lithium before we invade and take it.

    In spite of my hopes for Lithium battery technologies helping the evolution to plug-in hybrids, I’m happy to hear of a countries leader NOT selling out it’s people. Morales is well know for his populism (similar to Chavez for sure and good friends as well).

    If I were Morales I’d restrict raw exports to a trivial amount and force all the battery makers to build mines AND factories in Bolivia.

  • Wolfgang Leander

    Bolivia has always been referred to as a beggar sitting on a golden throne. That metaphor will stick.

    Why? Because Morales and his fellow Bolivians, no matter how ignorant or educated, lack the basis virtues of a civilized society: Discipline, respect for the law, unselfishness – which are cultural flaws so deeply ingrained that there is not the slightest hope that this will ever change.

    Whoever challenges this seemingly radical position does not know Bolivia and things Bolivian.

  • Boom Boom

    Wow, Wolfgang. There have been some truly prejudiced and stupid things said about Bolivia on this post, but you win the prize. “lack the virtues of a civilized society.” How many other countries in the world do you feel this way about?

    I believe in the crazy concept that the Bolivian people and their culture are due the same respect as any other people in the world. But I guess, then, I challenge the radical position and must not understand Bolivia.

    All Bolivia has done, so far, is to insist on fair negotiations for their resources. And for that, some folks on this blog have threatened invasion, cursed their entire government philosophy and been told they are no longer civilized. Talk about overreaction.

  • arnold

    The US consummers made Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, and some of the other middle east countries rich, on the process Exxon Mobil made billions by investing and distributing their oil. What is wrong with helping the Bolivian government market the Lithium brine and make money (just like Exxon-Mobil) along the way.
    The US should get the rights to explore, develop and dictate prices (just like DeBeers controls the world market of diamonds)
    in Bolivia
    Beat Japan, Taiwan, France, Germany, once we get a foot on the door the house will open. About fair prices, I believe this is the only country in the world that is above fair in paying and helping other countries.
    Why the big three automakers are begging for money, isn’t’ because they failed to produce state of the art , nice, efficient cars? , this can be their chance for them to lead the world on producing lithium battery powered vehicles.

  • AP

    Boom-Boom, while I might have worded things a bit differently than Wolgang, he’s correct in saying that things don’t work the same way in Latin America is in the US or other highly-developed countries.
    While we might complain about our US government and businesses, we don’t worry too much about police on the take, politicians on the take, etc. Bribes and conflicts of interest are, to varying extents, common in that region. There are broken promises between governments and unions, and strikes that pop up that suddenly get solved.
    They shouldn’t follow the Saudi Arabia model, where a few people (or the government) owns the resources, sells them, and then hands out money to the people to keep them satisifed. There is no personal pride in a system where things are given to you, and it breeds unrest.
    I believe that Jon Brown has the right solution: making finished products from the raw materials. That’s what should be happening in Iraq also. It employs more people, bring in more money, and stimulates home-grown knowledge and technology (which is also why we don’t want to lose the domestic auto industry).

    The difficulty would be in Bolivian companies convincing manufacturers that they can live up to the bargain and produce the batteries reliably (high quality and on time), and in the Bolivian government convincing them that they won’t suddenly change the rules, like imposing high excise taxes, or nationalizing the mines and factories.

  • Boom Boom

    AP, I understand that Bolivia is not the same as the US. I have lived in Brasil and traveled extensively in the area. Wolfgang wasn’t correct in saying anything. He didn’t say “things don’t work the same” in Bolivia. He said they lack “civilized” society. I know you aren’t a prejudiced moron, like Wolfgang, so I don’t think you need associate your comments with him.

    The rest of your comments about not following the Saudi (or even Venezuelan) approach are reasonable. Bolivia needs to strike a balance for a fair price and long term benefits for their resources. I hope, in the end, that the foreign industries and the Bolivian government are able to come to a fair agreement for both sides, but the way to reach this point is not to call the Bolivians “uncivilized socialists” and invade them. The Bolivian government could do this by allowing a percent of the Lithium to leave as raw material but in exchange asking the exporters to invest in battery manufacturing within Bolivia for the remaining lithium exports.

  • el guapo

    Nobody can dictate the price of a global commodity its just the way the markets work. If they could Saudi Arabia would have kept the price of a barrel of oil at 155 dollars. Even though Bolivia holds the greatest reserves they still have to sell the lithium at the market rate, otherwise people will just continue to buy it from other locations.

  • RKRB

    In capitalism, man exploits man. In socialism, it’s exactly the reverse, as the old saying goes.

    FWIW, we saw the original article in the NY Times. The Times seems to glory in sensationalistic journalism, and is not the, ah, most reliable or objective source of news. So the Bolivian police will probably not be knocking on your doors anytime soon to collect a fee on your lithium batteries, and the story is almost certainly less dire than the article indicates. Lithium is among the most abundant elements in the universe and there is plenty here on the good planet. If Bolivia doesn’t sell at a reasonable rate, it can be procured elsewhere.

    The Bolivian people deserve a good life and a good “lift” for helping everyone achieve greater energy efficiency. May they be well and do well.

  • Clark

    @MJ77: another stupid raid like the one we failed in Irak? C´mon man we ´re just recovering from that. Our economy is on it´s knees by the “let´s go and take a small country by force and loot petrol to get Exxon and Co. even more rich” idea. Forget it…

    @Mike77, @Wolfgang Leander: jajajajajajajajajajaja come and see LA Cal. for the lack of the virtues of a civilized society. Come and see any major american city… And this is America not Bolivia. You guys pretend to live in a country that holds all the virtues of what? More corruption, drugs and violence, that never before. Thanks Bush….

  • veek

    Clark:

    You can’t just pass the blame onto Bush for problems like drugs, corruption, violence, invading other countries, global warming, the sun going nova in 5 billion years, etc. These problems have been around for decades in all administrations, democrat and republican, and they are arguably no worse now or even better in some ways. Trying to blame one person or one party for complex problems is an evasion of responsibility (among other things), and it definitely makes it harder to come up with an intelligent solution to a complex problem like energy efficiency.

  • jczuleta

    It is too early to tell whether Bolivia will become the new Saudi Arabia of the world. This depends on at least three factors. First, the electric car rush must start to begin with. To my understanding, in order for this to happen the launch of GM´s Volt is crucial. It is important to remember that it was precisely GM the first global car maker to announce in January 2007 that by 2010 it would introduce the first mass-produced lithium powered plug-in hybrid electric cars into the market. This does not diminish the importance of the recent BYD car launching in China, pointing only to the magnitude of the US market for one of the world´s most revolutionary technological innovations of the last 100 years. Second, Bolivia has to start producing lithium carbonate in a proportion apropriate to the world´s needs. This, of course, is not an easy task considering both the country´s lack of experience in producing the metal and the government´s decision not to allow any foreign assistance or investment in this endeavour. Third, increases in lithium prices should not lead production of other lithium resources (e.g. spudumene) to become commercially viable.

  • jhh

    To: B Noel

    I too, worked in the nuclear industry after graduate school, thirty years ago. Do not discard a “hydrogen economy” so lightly. The mistake is trying to make hydrogen by extracting it from hydrocarbon fuels, or by using hydrocarbon fuels for electrolysis of water.

    Think of hydrogen as a storage battery. Nuclear power plants work best running at 100% of design output. It is hard to turn them down overnight when demand is low. The fuel is cheap and plentiful, so find another way to use the energy. One good way is to disassociate water to make hydrogen and oxygen. Release the oxygen into the atmosphere, and this effectively stores the energy in the hydrogen. Now there is only a distribution problem. Do not try to ship the hydrogen, it is very bulky. Ship the electrons. The distribution system is already in place. The equipment to disassociate water is inexpensive, and could be installed behind every gasoline station. The storage tank is probably the most expensive component. Use a dedicated internet connection to regulate the supply according to available electrons and local demand.

    By leveraging nuclear power, a significant portion of the transportation industry can be supplied by hydrogen, reducing our dependence on oil. I do not think you would want to store the hydrogen aboard an aircraft, as the article suggests. Kerosene is difficult to ignite, and nothing more volatile is allowed on Navy ships. Jet fuel is made from kerosene; I do not think you would want to substitute hydrogen, even if it were practical as a fuel. Ground transportation can incorporate the heavy tanks required to handle hydrogen safely. Range is the only problem, as it is with all battery solutions. A kilogram of gaseous hydrogen occupies a large volume, even at high pressures.

    Fuel cells have their own problems, they are bulky, heavy, and many operate at high temperatures. But an internal combustion engine can be made to run on hydrogen, which will provide an interim solution until something better comes along. -jhh

  • Brian Jackson

    Great. another technology gone amok. When will mechanical designs be ecologically designed for?

    Eng’science has always been out of focus in applying technology, or creating it. Understanding materials that can store energy is only a goal.

    Fuel cells are tinkered, light never seems to be gathered, storage solutions arent applicable on a grand scale.

    If we dont design for power scalability we may drown in sea water. Think about it

  • Christ

    Hello everybody,

    Hydrogen: The principle is good. The problem is who will produce the hydrogen and who will distributate the hydrogen to hydrogen station and who will control the hydrogen station. The answer is the oil company??? Why, because it’s only the oil company who have the money to invest and develop a network of hydrogen station.

    My question: Who wants to continue to be dependant of oil company?? Me, no!

    Therefore, I want an electric car based on battery that I can refill at home on current electric outlet. Because the electricity price will also be fair!

    Regarding to Bolivia, why a country does not have the right to not give away its raw ressource. Why people from these countries do not have the right to have a good future???

  • john123

    this attitude is exactly why americans are hated and mistrusted by nations such as Bolivia. They are just looking out for their interests in much the same way Canada was with the softwood lumber dispute. America has no intention of paying MARKET prices agreed to my the WTO Tribunal!!! So, why should any nation do business with a nation that has no interest in doing fair business.

    I say that every nation around the world should join together in an economic boycott of the USA. Then every nation would trade with everyone else (because unlike the USA every other nation is willing to pay market value) and the USA can shrivel up and die the slow painful death it has earned.

    I know these comments are unpopular, but hey, I was also unpopular at school when I beat the shit out of the bullies. The so-called “loosers” loved me, the popular kids and their military arm the ‘bullies’ hated me. Well, America is a bully and someone needs to kick its ass. Hey, China, you free thursday night?

  • Wolfgang Leander

    Boom-Boom:

    What I said about Bolivia, my home country, might have looked quite radical – it is the quintessence of what I have experienced here.

    OK, so you lived in Brazil and travelled in the region – as a tourist I guess.

    What qualifies you to call me a “prejudiced moron”?

    I have lived in many Latin American countries (Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Venezuela – I LIVED in those countries, I didn’t visit them as a tourist), and I believe I have some in-depth knowledge about this continent which you seem to lack. I also lived for 27 years in Germany, England, Spain, USA, and in the Bahamas. I am a multilingual cosmopolitan (German, Spanish, French, and English) with no difficulties finding my way around in foreign countries.

    You said the Bolivians and their culture deserve respect. Bravo, Boom Boom!! – sure they do but I spoke of their lack of virtues of a civilized society: Here I found more dishonesty, lack of consideration for the others, lack of discipline in the day-to-day life, corruption on all levels, hypocrisy, than in other Latin American country.

    That’s all I said. So what’s the problem, Mr. or Ms. Boom-Boom? You must be rather young; I am not (68), and I am thus entitled to be radical.

    You should relax and read “Pueblo Enfermo” by Alcides Arguedas, writen in the late thirties (I presume you speak Spanish) – the book is a classic and an eye-opener for naive folks like you.

    Have a good day, AND get a life.

  • Anonimo

    Rofl because you’re 68 you have the right to be radical.
    Wolfgang… oldies like you need to just die out…

  • vivabolivar

    and who controls the market, rich, arrogant kings from Saudi? Morales may be over his head in many of these things, but as someone mentioned earlier, he is doing it for a country who has been pillaged by the US and Spain, whether 10 years ago or 100 years ago. The change there is at a high price but right now we’re no different than we were many years ago with presidents who stole from our country.

  • John Talbutt

    First you say you are suprised that Bolivia is greedy. Then you say you seriously doubt Bolivia wants more money. Them dern foreigners are just true tricky for you.

  • John Talbutt

    Please don’t include “the” English among your languages.

  • Humberto

    “…by a socialist country…” (!)
    becomes clear that you don’t know what socialism is.

    is also very funny to read that the next generation of cars, depend of “love for USA”

  • John Spencer

    All this concern over lithium prices. Of the total cost of a lithium Ion battery, what portion of the cost is actually the cost of the lithium carbonate? I bet no one really knows the answer to this but I bet there are other components that are more expensive than lithium carbonate in $/battery. Copper comes to mind.

  • John Spencer

    Let’s not get our blood in a bubble.

    Todays hybrid car batteries are mostly nickel metal hydride batteries, not lithium ion. The lithium batteries will be used for the plug ins.

    Second, though not perfected yet, there are technologies being developed that have similar charge densities to lithium that do not use lithium.

    Third, there are some new recycling plants being built today to recycle the lithium.

    I would not lose sleep over the price or availability of lithium. If it gets too scarce or expensive, we will by then have another solution.

  • Anonymous

    What the hell is up with this news article. It seems to present everything in a very twisted way.

  • brandon

    its not a matter of wanting more money for the lithium, (I assume) they just want to process the resource materials domestically to increase their value exponentialy, which produces drastically more profit for Bolivia, without necessarily rising the price of lithium batteries. I imagine labor is cheap(er) in Bolivia opposed to the markets of these batteries (N. america, Europe, ext), so technically the batteries should drop in price, unless greed maintains strict price controls on the batteries.

  • bradley reshenko

    Let eh Bolivians stick it up their you know whats, and USA buy from Argentina and Chile. The hell with socialists, all of them, see what happened in Russia.. Enough said..

  • The Kingpin2010

    Pay Euros or pounds better because there will be no technology for the us if we dont like the benefits and money!

  • goya

    No surprise, that with such stupids ideas and fake power muslins hate america

  • goya

    leave bolivia alone. If you don’t want to pay a fair price get the Lithium from somewhere else. Since you are developed countries I bet you can afford it if you stop sending troops to Afganistan.

  • Brewster2010

    Most posters here have accepted the liberal media description of Bolivia. I lived there in the past and have closely watched the politics since leaving.

    When a past free enterprise conservative president privatized the government owned mines the bloated government payrolls were reduced. Some miners who lost their mining jobs were resettled in the Cochabamba region and taught to be farmers. They found this work too hard and promptly switched to growing coca, which in this region was ONLY suitable for sale to drug cartels to make cocaine. The representative of the “coca-for-cocaine” farmers cooperative was Evo Morales. That was his entry to politics. I believe he was the representative of the drug cartels in presidential elections. I believe Morales is financially supported by the drug cartels and his deal is: You can do what you want in politics as long as there is non interference with the drug business.

    Bolivia is corrupt and so is Evo Morales. His demands for his lithium are that batteries and electric vehicles must be made in Bolivia. The favorite political weapon of Indian activists is nationwide road blockades that shut down truck transportation, the major method in Bolivia, with no coast to coast railway and no seaport. Multinational companies cannot afford to have production halted due to political strife. This has kept foreign investors out of Bolivia in the past and will again in the case of lithium.

    Let the Bolivians leave the lithium in the ground for a wiser generation.

  • Gabriel

    Sorry to many here, but Bolivia (as well as many central and south-american countries) has good reasons NOT to trust the United States of America. The deals to mine Lithium AND manufacture batteries and other value-added goods (not just exporting the raw mineral) will be most probably made with european (probably french) and asian (seems like korean companies are doing well) partners.
    Since Bolivia is an independent and sovereign country, and its government is a democratically elected one (not run by an “arrogant, ignoramus dictator”, like some ignorant stated above), even backed by a nation-wide poll two years AFTER its election (does any other country dare to do this?), they have all the right to negotiate with whom they like most. And they have the right not to negotiate with the US, if they have reasons to distrust the US.
    Typical US arrogance that make people state “Bolivia needs the United States” or “There is not a country in the world that doesn’t NEED the United States if they want to improve their current standard of living” is replicated in US foreign policies since DECADES ago, and now that attitude “helps” the US reap what the US has sown. The US mentality that so lightly makes ppl write comments like “Patrick- “The lithium belongs to Bolivia and not to the US” that could change in about 24 hours if the US wanted to invade Bolivia. Don’t forget that in the negotiation” adds very little (so to speak) to USA’s charm. Thinking that the US has the right to invade a country (or put a puppet dictatorship) if said country does not give their raw minerals (or other goods) to the US at el-cheapo-prices, while typical american attitude, is far from being positive for the US. A change in attitude (and many years to prove it’s sincere) is what will give the US some credibility again in some places. And that will, in time, mean a reward if the US want a share in business WITH said places. Otherwise, those countries will seek some other partners (and there are a-plenty) in business. Europeans and especially asians are very well positioned to do so. There’s not a bit of anger towards asians in Central and South America. Asians have never helped to overthrow a democratically elected gov’t there nor helped put a puppet murderer dictatorship there either.

  • fubleduck

    Electricity is NOT an energy SOURCE, but an energy PRODUCT. It takes energy to produce it. I don’t see it as very likely that you can ever charge up an electric car as quick & conveniently as you can fuel up a conventional vehicle. The charger would have to be countless times more powerful than the vehicle being charged. Also, I don’t see any way the vehicle can have the same range.
    A hybrid vehicle is no doubt compramised by the fact that it loses power charging the battery-even w/ retrobraking. An ideal sized engine w/out a bunch of batteries should yield more efficiency.

    Fuel cells seem to be the most potentially promising for vehicular energy, as it’s self contained & energy goes directly into elecrtricity that would otherwise have to power a generator b/4 electricity even exists. One of the FC’s drawbacks seems to be that it lacks the power to size ratio of a full blown combustion engine. It would either be underpowered, or the powerplant would have to comprise a much larger component of the vehicle’s size. FC’s have been greatly refined since the early space program, but they had oodles of room 4 improvement. The FC’s weighed roughly 100# for every unit of horsepower produced, & they contained their own oxygen. If Engines are an indication, airbreathers are a lot heavier. That’s why rockets are a lot smaller than airbreathing jets.
    Full blown combustion is a much more concentrated power source than the virtual artificial metabolism a fuel cell seems to replicate

  • entatiki

    Why do you consider Morales a dictator?
    Morales was first elected President of Bolivia on December 18, 2005, with 53.7% of the popular vote.Two and a half years later he substantially increased this majority. In a recall referendum on August 14, 2008, more than two thirds of voters voted to keep him in office.Morales won presidential elections again in December 2009 by 63% and continued to his second term of presidency.
    Just because a foreign country opposses US corporate involvement doesnt make it a dictatorship.
    Look at the Arab world, Iraq and Libya are dictatorships with oil but unfreindly to the US, so what does the US do? Cries dirty dictators and invades imposing democratic reform. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are both dictatorships with unrest and oil but friendly to the US, so what does the US do? Nothing.No mention of dictators, no mention of suppression of its civilians, no sanctions, just business a usual.

    The USA most stop playing bully around the world. No one is seeking or exploiting US natural resourses. What the US exports is done on US terms. The same should apply the other way around with the common people’s interests always in mind, not the blood sucking corporations interests only. Im not saying they shouldnt make money, they should, but if the resources dont belong to you you must pay a price for it.

  • altonalvin

    Hybrids, in my opinion, are a United States thing since I think they are the no.1 consumer in automobiles so it’s like a marketing plo to get people aware of our environment. Hybrid cars is one small solution as I heard they are trying to event cars without gas. At any rate, there are still people out there who simply don’t care about the environment regardless of Nancy Pelosi’s statement or whoever….I’m rambling. liberté