The Future of Electric Vehicles Depends on Stable U.S. Rare Earth Minerals Production

Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids are the future, but getting past our current reliance on internal combustion engines will require secure, domestic sources for a plethora of important minerals, such as rare earth metals. While the future of EVs and other green technologies is promising, reliance on overseas sources for these critical minerals creates significant strategic and economic risks that policy makers must mitigate by increasing U.S. production.

Passenger electric vehicles constitute a growing portion of the vehicle market, with more than 354,000 EVs sold in 2018, a 72% increase from 2017. Such vehicles could make up 7% or more of the U.S. vehicle fleet by 2030 if the current pace of growth can be sustained.

The Pentagon is also beginning to integrate electric vehicles into its wheeled fleets. Donald Sando, Director of Capabilities Development and Integration for the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, told an audience in 2017 that “In 10 years, some of our brigade combat teams will be all-electric.” Although DoD has benefited from the recent decline in energy prices, gasoline and diesel fuels are still a major expense. In 2018, the agency estimated it spent $9.2 billion on operational fuel costs.