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Electric-car makers need to stay on their diet

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks next to the company’s newest Model S during the Model S Beta Event held at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California October 1, 2011. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/

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NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters Breakingviews) – US electric-vehicle leader Tesla (TSLA.O) has hiked its prices read more twice in a matter of days, with BYD (002594.SZ), (1211.HK) following suit read more . The Chinese company and Tesla boss Elon Musk have pointed to rising raw materials costs. It’s a trend that threatens the dream of an affordable EV for the masses.

Keeping that hope alive argues for cheaper, lighter cars using battery technology that throws out now-expensive materials like nickel and cobalt as far as possible, perhaps even at the cost of range. Some impact is unavoidable: Batteries need lithium and car bodies need aluminum. But things are changing. BYD is slimming down batteries while Tesla is integrating them into cars’ chassis. Meanwhile, the average amount of nickel and cobalt used in new cars declined somewhat in the second half of 2021 – down 2% and 9% per car, respectively – according to research from Adamas Intelligence.

EV sales have benefited from restrained commodity costs in recent years, as well as from improving technology. With the cost side now going haywire, automakers may have to step on the accelerator when it comes to the pace of innovation and adaptation. (By Jonathan Guilford)

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Editing by Richard Beales and Pranav Kiran

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