Not Quite Enough
I spent some time investigating this and found this paper: "The Trouble with Lithium". It argues that while there is enough lithium in the earth's crust to make all cars run on lithium ion batteries, not enough of it is extractable:
- The world automotive fleet is 1 billion vehicles worldwide.
- A battery electric vehicle needs at least a 30 kWh battery to be usable (30 kWh will go for 120 miles or around 190 kilometers).
- A lithium-ion battery requires between 1.4 and 1.5kg of lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) per kWh of capacity. That's between 42 or 45 kg of lithium carbonate per car.
- To equip all cars in the world with lithium batteries, we will need (conservatively) 42 billion kg of lithium carbonate. That's 42 megatons ("MT") of Li2CO3.
- The paper estimates the global reserve base - the total amount of known lithium in the earth's crust - of lithium carbonate to be 58 MT, which would cover it.
- Of these 58 MT of Li2CO3, we currently know how to extract about 27 MT. That's not enough to turn all cars into all-electric vehicles.