The potential for U.S. dependency on foreign countries for lithium-ion batteries could potentially get worse, according to the CEO of 6K.
"Take a step back," Aaron Bent said on "Mornings with Maria" Thursday in response to the Biden administration announcing last week that it would provide more than $3 billion in funding in a push to make components and batteries for electric vehicles in the U.S.
"This is really a story about domestic production, national security and maintaining U.S. technology leadership," he added.
The price of lithium has surged 430% over the last year. Experts have signaled it’s not a shortage of the material itself, but rather the slow process to extract the material that’s causing the backup.
According to Bent, 95% of battery materials are imported from Asia, and the production problem could be fixed with a domestic supply chain shift.
"Our dependency on foreign countries for lithium-ion batteries has the potential of being actually worse than the semiconductor issue we're seeing today," Bent warned.
The CEO stressed that "batteries back up our critical infrastructure" and "there are literally zero battery materials produced on U.S. soil today. And that's a serious issue. We have less than a month of supply on U.S. soil."
While explaining how to increase lithium-ion battery production, the materials expert cautioned that it can’t be done in the short term.
"It's going to take two major things: One is a lot of collaboration between industry and government and creating domestic supply chains here in the United States," Bent noted. "But I think the biggest thing is it’s going to take us technological innovation."
6K’s CEO expressed his hope for the company to "change the narrative" within key industries that put the U.S. at a disadvantage, like the lithium battery market.
"That's where I go back to the need to do technology innovation and willingness to support young companies to leapfrog China," Bent said.
"Very few policymakers realize how serious an issue lithium-ion batteries are and the supply chain infrastructure, the fragility of it" and that "across the aisle, there's a lot of support for doing something different. We just have to change and move into action," he added.