This year looks set to be the ''tipping point'' for electric cars, according to the chief commercial officer at BHP. As Sonia Legg reports, his comments comes as Germany's Volkswagen moves to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a vital component of rechargeable batteries, as the group accelerates its ambitious shift to electric cars.
The shift towards electric vehicles is revolutionising the car industry. But it's not the only sector feeling the impact. The need for new raw materials is having a huge influence on commodities. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BHP CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, ARNOUD BALHUIZEN, SAYING: "When we look back probably 2017 will be the tipping point year of when electric vehicles really started to kick off and I would say copper is the metal of the future." There are only 1 million electric cars in a global fleet of 1.1 billion But BHP forecasts that will rise to 140 million by 2035. Copper suppliers may struggle to meet demand And oil ones will also have some adjusting to do. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BHP CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, ARNOUD BALHUIZEN, SAYING: "We see that the biggest impact on oil demand in the next 15 years will not be electric vehicles but will be efficiency of the internal combustion engine." China's efforts to build a new Silk Road will also influence future demand for commodities. BHP predicts the world will need an extra 150 million tonnes of steel. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BHP CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, ARNOUD BALHUIZEN, SAYING: "Infrastructure is key for those developing countries, every country which wants to come through economic cycle will have to start building infrastructure. Infrastructure is about steel, it's about cement, so this will support steel demand." Another popular commodity is cobalt. Just this week Germany's Volkswagen reportedly asked producers to submit proposals for supplying the vital battery component for 10 years from 2019.