Will Tesla Die for Lack of Cobalt?

Wedged between iron and nickel on the periodic table, cobalt has suddenly emerged as the electric car killer. The once-obscure metal, a critical part of batteries, has nearly tripled in price since last summer as concerns grow about whether there will be enough cobalt to meet demand.

The ingredients are certainly there for a shortage. Output is concentrated in the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo and refining is dominated by China. Demand is set to soar as companies from Tesla Inc. to Volkswagen AG ramp up production of electric vehicles.

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