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ExxonMobil is talking to Tesla and Ford about supplying critical minerals for EVs

A faded Exxon sign stands next to four powerlines framed by dark clouds and a blue sky.
Image Credit: Unsplash/Justin
  • ExxonMobil is now trying to sell lithium to electric vehicle manufacturers

  • The move is part of the company's attempts to remain relevant as reliance on oil and gas declines

  • Earlier this year the largest independent oil company acquired a business to explore lithium mining in Arkansas

  • Exxon is talking to Ford and Tesla and battery makers like LG to supply its lithium for their battery needs

Just a few months after ExxonMobil revealed it was entering the lithium mining market, the company has started talking to big automakers about supplying critical minerals for electric vehicles.

It's the latest acknowledgement by the world's biggest independent oil and gas company that an oil-free future could be in the cards.

To be clear ExxonMobil still plans on making billions from the oil, gas, and chemicals that are leading contributors to global warming, but even the big oil major is showing signs that it's seeing the writing on the wall after decades of denial and deliberately slowing the transition to electrification.

The news of these talks, first reported by Bloomberg, shouldn't be a surprise. Most oil majors are at least paying lip service to diversifying their businesses as they seek to become providers of any services they can which would maintain their relevance in a world powered by renewable energy.

That extends from next generation geothermal energy development to hydrogen mining and production, to carbon removal and storage, mining for lithium -- one of the most important inputs for an EV battery.

Earlier this year, Exxon acquired an Oklahoma company that was working to develop lithium mining operations in Arkansas.

A number of companies believe that the geologic formation arcing from the Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana border through Alabama and Mississippi and into the Florida panhandle, could contain a lot of the lithium that the U.S. needs to accomplish the transition away from fossil fuels.

ExxonMobil's chief executive said recently that the company views lithium mining and extraction as a part of the company's future.

“So this, to us, feels like a potential win-win-win opportunity, a win using our capabilities, a win from an environmental impact standpoint, and a win in terms of supplying markets with a crucial component to electrification and EV,” said CEO Darren Woods on an earnings call. “So I think that’s kind of how we’re thinking about it. And we’re I’d say actively exploring that opportunity set and like what we’re seeing so far.”


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