Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn A Tesla assembly line of the early Model S sedans in 2012. Credit: Steve Jurvetson, Creative Commons The world's carmakers are maneuvering toward an electric future, but China’s grip on the precious minerals vital to the new vehicles may spark another revolution: a race to retrieve and recycle batteries. General Motors announced in January that it plans a major switch to electric vehicles, in a bid to compete with Tesla, the world’s most valuable car company, as well as Nio, a Chinese EV startup whose stock market value is now equal to GM. All want the best technology to persuade consumers to trade in their gas powered automobiles, but automakers will also have to figure out how to keep their climate-conscious models moving. China now controls much of the supply chain for cobalt, a critical element for the most powerful electric vehicle batteries. It also dominates the supply of lithium and nickel, metals used in a variety of batteries. China has hinted that it could move to restrict the export of key elements, like the rare earths crucial to the defense sector, creating coSubscribe, register or login to read the rest. Registered users can access a limited amount of content for free.Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.