Autocar's motoring plans and predictions for 2022

Autocar’s motoring plans and predictions for 2022

Yes, at 1405kg it weighs more than you’d expect from a Lotus, but it should be light enough to deliver the delicately honed dynamics we demand, yet with enough heft to tempt buyers more used to hewn- from-solid Porsches. Plus it’s packed with the user-friendly features and tech that will make for a machine you will drive every day, not just high days and holidays. Coupled with cash from parent firm Geely, the future is looking bright.

How bright? Well, for years we’ve all uttered that time-honoured Lotus acronym: Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious. But now, thanks to the Emira and Geely, let’s hope it can be changed to Lots of Thrills, Usually Sensational.

Electric car sales will grow another 50%

The calculators are still being hammered, but it looks like electric cars will account for just over 10% of all new car registrations in 2021, representing a rise of nearly 60% year on year.

That’s both impressive and ahead of expectations, driven by a greater choice of vehicles and a greater focus on switching to EVs since the 2030 ban on new combustion- engined car sales sharpened minds.

Analysts predict similar growth next year, crucially taking EVs to around 14% of the market as diesel shrinks to 12%. That will be a hugely symbolic moment, and all the more remarkable for the fact that supply constraints are throttling the electric car market. Add in plug-in hybrids – this year about 7% of the market, next year around 8% – and you swiftly reach a point where more than one in five registrations will be electrified. If this growth is maintained, the 2030 cut-off could be a non-event.

Battery prices will stop dropping and start rising

At the end of 2021, if car makers hadn’t seen enough trouble, the price of lithium rocketed. According to Bench Mark Mineral Intelligence, the price of ‘battery-grade lithium carbonate’ shot up by 300% to nearly $29,000 per tonne. Prices are expected to continue rising.

Those increases will be passed onto car makers and then customers between 2022 and 2024 as the supply of suitable lithium remains ‘tight’. To make matters worse, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei said the price of cobalt jumped 60% in 2021 over 2020. However, Congo, one of the main suppliers, is politically unstable and suffers from accusations of child labour. As a result, a number of companies are seeking to eliminate cobalt from the construction of batteries. Nissan says it will reduce the cobalt mix to 10% of the electrode’s make-up in the new Ariya batteries, and Panasonic is working to build a 5% cobalt-positive electrode.