E54: Lithium Manhattan Project?

Vivas Kumar gets a hall pass from Stanford University for a quick trip to Los Angeles to sit down with the Global Lithium Podcast team. Vivas shares the realities of splitting his life between his new role at Benchmark and pursuing his MBA.

We discuss the trade war with China and why the United States vilifies mining while promoting critical materials. Joe shares his experience with policymakers and entrenched interests and how the government could learn and improve to solve this challenge.

Vivas talks about India, and how electrification of mobility is essential in this country that is home to 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. We cover the development challenges faced by countries like India and China in lifting people out of poverty, and the role of lithium batteries in doing so. We chat about the role of China’s debt diplomacy and why India’s conglomerate culture is different.

Vivas’s first exposure to the world of lithium was at his former employer Tesla, and when he took on the role, his first reading included Joe Lowry’s linkedin articles. Vivas explains why electric vehicles and autonomy are linked, demonstrating the shift from maintenance and moving parts in an ICE engine to the EVs of the future.

We close by hoping that this moment in history is a new “Lithium Manhattan Project” and that current talk translates into action. Our Rapid Fire Question and Answer includes Joe’s take on lithium in Africa, why Vivas wants Houston to be a Smart City, and more.

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