Thursday September 28, at the invitation of the International Energy Agency, forty-seven states met in Paris to reflect on a new “critical metals diplomacy”, allowing everyone to have access to the raw materials necessary for succeed in the energy transition. Without waiting for political initiatives, large companies have taken the lead. A global group born from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot-Citroën in 2021, Stellantis announces every month an investment in a mining project or in the creation of a joint venture with a semiconductor supplier. Appointed group purchasing and supply chain director in June 2022, Maxime Picat has made it his priority.
“For years, we built cars with sheet metal, plastic and engines whose parts came from suppliers dedicated to the automobile. We just had to say that we wanted to make 7 million cars to have 7 million of each part”, explains this lieutenant of boss Carlos Tavares. With new vehicles, full of electronics, and even more so with electric cars, whose batteries use rare chemical components, everything is changing.
“For electronics or chemical suppliers, automobiles are only a small part of the business”, notes the purchasing director. For the Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC, the sector weighs barely 4%, confirms a study by the strategy consulting firm Roland Berger. On the battery chemistry side, Roland Berger indicates that there will be just enough lithium to meet the needs of the industry in 2030 but probably not enough processed materials, such as lithium carbonate or nickel sulfate.
Added to this are new geopolitical constraints: Joe Biden requires that the batteries of vehicles sold in the United States include at least 40% ores extracted or processed locally, a rate which will rise to 80% in 2027. We must therefore create a new sector on the American continent. France will put in place, on 1is January 2024, an environmental score which will open, or not, access to bonuses for the purchase of a “wattage”, also encouraging industrialists to relocate.
The Stellantis purchasing department – 4,500 people worldwide, for 120 billion euros in orders – was therefore reorganized. A raw materials division was created, with engineering skills. “We are constantly looking for where there may be a node: lack of resources, process controlled by too few actors [le raffinage des matériaux, par exemple]explains Maxime Picat. When we identify it, we look for alternatives and, if necessary, we can invest directly. »
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