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Electra CEO Trent Mell breaks down the Biden infrastructure bill and its impact on EVs

$7.5 billion of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Biden will provide funding for EV charging stations around the nation. As the auto industry continues to move toward EVs, you may be asking how you’ll be impacted. On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Trent Mell, President and CEO of Electra Battery Materials, formerly known as First Cobalt, to take a look at the infrastructure bill.

Fundamentally, the infrastructure bill is trying to reduce the range anxiety. Mell says we must do better. We can’t be parking our cars for an hour and a half on the highway because we want to drive 300 to 400 miles down the road. He says batteries are getting better and there’s some work for the charging infrastructure that needs to be done but overall, he believes it’s going to help sell more cars.

Mell says their role is to sell the material that goes into the battery. There’s a real sense of urgency. EV sales worldwide are growing around 26% to 30% per year and in the U.S. EV sales are more than double, year to date. He says never underestimate the U.S consumer because things can happen fast. Mel asks, why would you buy a gas engine vehicle, when you see the future before your eyes?

You’ll be more than happy to take the inconvenience, but that inconvenience is being offset by bigger battery packs and longer ranges says Mell. One of the technological advancements, is the battery packs, which allow more material to be packed in. There’s also higher nickel density, which gives you more change. He says, they’re also getting smarter with charging cable, so they won’t overheat. Mell believes we’re in the early stage of what may be a permanent shift.

Mell says to make EVs sustainable there’s a need to have a valuable supply chain. There’s a big hunt globally for nickel. He believes the solution is getting a social compact in this country to open our minds to mining. It’s hard to permit mining in the U.S. He says the sorting of the supply chain on the raw material side, is going to be important for the cost of the vehicle.

Related: EV adoption hindered by poor range, insufficient charging infrastructure

It’s an industrial revolution. Mell says there are so many things changing right before our eyes, even if it takes 5 or 8 years, it’s still history being made. It feels to me, we might need fewer dealers says, Mell.

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