Busting Zeihan’s Peak EV Claim Made on the Joe Rogan Show

Peter Zeihan has chosen to claim that the electric car revolution will start to fail around 2030 and “disappear” in the 2030s. This is another convenient claim that will give Peter Zeihan another stream of income lasting until he retires around 2040. It is something where EVs will continue to grow and scale but where there will be constant concerns about whether the growth will continue or slow. He has staked out an anti-EV opinion leader position. He will get paid for TV appearances, public speaking or consulting for combustion engine car and truck companies. Executives at those companies will want someone to create FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about electric cars.

Zeihan is Essentially Claiming There Will be Peak EV

There is also vagueness in the statements and a lack of falsifiability. What is a meltdown? Is it a regular recession? Those happen on a relatively regular basis. Zeihan allows you to fill in some interpretation on the listener’s part. The listener can re-interpret the statements years later having forgetten any at-the-moment context. The biased listener can help move the goalposts for Zeihan at the moment and even later.

I could have said in 2000 that the oil fracking boom would fizzle out and decline. The oil industry booms and busts all the time. It is difficult for the world to change. The oil fracking did decline substantially after regulations and policies turned less favorable.

I could have said in 1980 that the Personal Computing boom will fade and weaken. The PCs did peak and there was the laptop, notebook waves and then the smartphone and table waves. The mainframe computers and servers were never eliminated and servers and large computers resurged with cloud computing.

I can make thousands of statements of the form:

Within some number of decades (maybe one decade) there will be a major recession or decline in country or major emerging industry. The major emerging industry will have major supply chain issues (perhaps crippling supply chain).

Zeihan EV is of the same form as Peak Oil people. From 1965 to today, there have been booms and busts in the business of predicting the death of the oil industry. M. King Hubbert is often credited with introducing the notion in a 1956 paper that presented a formal theory and predicted U.S. extraction to peak between 1965 and 1971.

Peak oil is the hypothetical point in time when the maximum rate of global oil production is reached, after which it is argued that production will begin an irreversible decline. It is related to the distinct concept of oil depletion; while global petroleum reserves are finite, the limiting factor is not whether the oil exists but whether it can be extracted economically at a given price. A secular decline in oil extraction could be caused both by depletion of accessible reserves and by reductions in demand that reduce the price relative to the cost of extraction, as might be induced to reduce carbon emissions

Zeihan Audience and Revenue

There is money in being an Anti-EV alarmist. Advertising money and conference money and other consulting money.

Business consultants create the arguments to provide cover for executives to make decisions within corporations.

There will also be localities where someone wants to create a viable not in my backyard argument against a new lithium mine or some other new EV component factory or EV factory.

Tesla and Elon Musk have said that Master Plan 3 involves getting the needed mineral resources in a timely way to complete the ramp from 600 gigawatt hours/year or EVs and battery storage to ten terawatt hours per year of product. Tesla wants to be a major part of a 300 Terawatt hour electrification process.

History of Being Wrong and Still Gets on the Joe Rogan Show

Zeihan worked at STRATFOR and was trained and mentored by George Friedman.

STRATFOR is a geopolitical consultancy which was founded in 1996 by George Friedman. Friedman wrote the book “The Coming War with Japan” in 1991. For prediction accuracy, you may recall the terrible second war of the Pacific between the USA and Japan…Oh that’s right it never happened in our reality.

The book claimed a military confrontation between the United States and Japan is likely within the next 20 years. According to the authors, the issues are the same as they were in 1941: Japan needs to control access to its mineral supplies in Southeast Asia and to have an export market it can dominate. In order to do this, Japan must force the United States out of the western Pacific. There is little effort to explore the substantial differences between the 1940s and the 1990s.

Friedman had an anti-Japan consultancy for over a decade.

The 2005 prediction of Zeihan and STRATFOR:

In 2005, STRATFOR forecasted – China will suffer a meltdown like Japan and East and Southeast Asia before it. The staggering proportion of bad debt, enormous even in relation to official dollar reserves, represents a defining crisis for China. China will not disappear by any means, any more than Japan or South Korea has. However, extrapolating from the last 30 years is unreasonable. … At the same time that we see China shifting into a dramatically different mode.

Zeihan continues to run an anti-China consultancy for over a decade.

Zeihan has his anti-EV consultancy and public speaking business which he will run for over a decade.

They can be wrong about Japan and wrong about China and never get really called on it over decades. The media always needs a PRO and a CON representative. Zeihan purpose is to make an assured set of assertions and somewhat plausible argument that aligns with biases in a large segment of an audience.

Current EV and Battery Technology and Mineral Needs

It takes some time to prove the fallacy and BS in Peter Zeihan’s claim. It is part his strategy to make a simplified one to two-minute set of claims that can take ten minutes or more to completely or totally debunk.

This can also be difficult because many people want Peter’s claims to be true. Those people will not be convinced by logic or facts.

There are forecasts that there will shortages of key minerals for EV batteries but there is also a potential glut of LFP batteries. It is also possible that both events happen with a temporary 2 year glut of LFP batteries and a shortage of nickel batteries.

China’s new production capacity for lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode materials tripled in the first three quarters of 2022, sparking speculations that an overcapacity crisis may emerge in the second half of 2023 or in 2024, according to supply chain experts. China’s battery makers have invested over $200 billion to build new iron LFP factories and supply chain to supply 2 terawatt hour per year by 2025. There was 300 GWh of EV batteries in 2021 and 600 GWh of EV batteries in 2022.

Substituting New Battery Chemistries and Radically More Efficient Mineral Usage

Iron LFP batteries have surpassed nickel batteries for supplying electric cars and iron LFP uses no nickel or cobalt. Iron LFP completely negates concerns about nickel and cobalt supply impacting ultra high production of EVs.

Tesla is also constantly reducing the wiring needed in electric cars and Elon is targeting eventually getting down to 300 feet of copper wiring for a Model Y.

CATL, the largest battery company in the world, is scaling up Sodium-Ion batteries. Sodium Ion batteries would eliminate lithium in all fixed energy storage and some electric cars.

Nextbigfuture has examined CATL sodium ion batteries and CATL ramping plans.

People like Peter Zeihan who predict some kind of simple shortage scenario blocking the electric car revolution and fixed battery storage at massive scale are ignoring that these are rapidly becoming trillion dollar and multi-trillion dollar industries. Tens of billions of dollars every year are going into developing new mines, lithium refining, recycling and battery and EV research and development. It is like saying Apple would run into a roadblack scaling iPhones because of some mineral needed for the current generation of smartphones. Nvidia, Intel and TSMC would not be stopped scaling chip production and fabs because of some mineral limitation. In the science fiction book and Dune movies, they have the quote..”the Spice must flow.” Multi-trillion dollar per year industries will innovate and develop the resources needed to maintain production and growth.

For decades, there were people outside the oil industry who said that we would run out of oil and growth in oil would stop and decline. The oil industry developed deepwater drilling, shale oil production and other technologies and processes to maintain economic production growth. There will be challenges and limits to be overcome. There will be a lot of resources unlocked and innovation to realize the multi-trillion per year by 2030 prize and another ten times by 2040.


A US Congressional Report looks at the critical minerals needed for the high volume electric car future.

Lithium deposits commonly occur in rock formations in minerals (e.g., petalites, lepidolites, spodumene), clays, and in solution in brines (e.g., salars, geothermal systems). According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), lithium is extracted from brines that are pumped from beneath arid sedimentary basins and extracted from granitic pegmatite ores. The leading producer of lithium from brine is Chile, and the leading producer of lithium from pegmatites is Australia. Other potential sources of lithium include clays, geothermal brines, oilfield brines, and zeolites.

Australian company, Ioneer, plans to develop a lithium mine on federal land in Nevada. The mine would produce approximately 20,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate over the expected 26-year mine life. Piedmont Lithium is planning a spodumene mine and lithium hydroxide conversion operation on private land in North Carolina. Piedmont Lithium reports that the combined mine/hydroxide operation would produce 30,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide per year, for 20 years.

Noram Lithium Corporation, a Canadian company, plans to develop a lithium clay mining operation on federal land in Nevada, one mile from the Albemarle operation. The lithium would be processed near the mine site, and annual production of lithium carbonate is expected to be approximately 6,000 metric tons per year, for an initial period of 40 years.

In 2020, the California Energy Commission (CEC) estimated that the subsurface rock in the southern Salton Sea region contained subsurface brine with the potential to supply 40% of the world’s lithium demand and generate over $7 billion in annual revenue. The potential of this region to produce clean energy and lithium is so promising that the CEC set up the Lithium Valley Commission to further investigate opportunities in this area. The United States has the largest known geothermal resource in the world, with an estimated potential to provide up to 10% of the total US electricity capacity.

But geothermal resources at the Salton Sea don’t just offer renewable energy—the brine is full of minerals, including valuable metals like lithium, that could be extracted with the right technologies.

There is a 2021 NREL technoeconomic analysis for the cost of extracting lithium from the Salton Sea and geothermal brines. A review of these projects indicates expected production costs (i.e., operating expenses or OPEX) near $4,000/metric ton of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and reported internal rates of return suggest this production cost target is economically feasible with estimated prices of ≥$11,000/mt LCE. Many techniques and process strategies have been proposed to extract lithium directly from geothermal and other brines, and these can be generally categorized into adsorption, ion exchange, and solvent extraction techniques. Of these technologies, the ones currently advancing to pilot- and near-commercial-scale demonstrations involve adsorption and ion exchange techniques.

Aluminum Can Replace Copper

A Nextbigfuture reader has noted that Aluminum can replace copper.

28 thoughts on “Busting Zeihan’s Peak EV Claim Made on the Joe Rogan Show”

  1. Scaling individual EVs implies rising battery production, which means a growth in raw materials, including Lithium. A forecasted Lithium shortage from 2025 inevitably constrains this scaling of individual EVs. One should focus on developing electric public transportation infrastructures to make world transportation systems electric. A transportation ecosystem populated by personal vehicles, which each contain only one passenger most of the time, is deemed to fail, being it electric or not.

    • The problem with public transport is that it is horrible and low class and filled with commoners.
      I’ll pass.

  2. Don’t know why there is so much hate for Musk. The guy is doing a lot of good things. Yeah, he’s no saint but electric cars, cheaper space access, cheaper tunneling etc, is all good as far as I’m concerned.

    Let’s not also forget that by purchasing Twitter he revealed for us the ingrained corruption that we always suspected.

  3. Zeihan is usually wrong, but it is a long jump to think China would surpass the US in anything but pollution, which they accomplished years ago.
    Eventually,we will get to peak oil, it is just that left leaning economists have always been wrong, but to think that EV’s,including FCEV’s ,will melt down,is pretty funny, not likely.
    The Chinese,have been doing much worse, but as long as the world cares nothing about the rights of ethnic and racial minorities, or pollution, and climate change, or world security,China will thrive, they make cheap stuff and the Western world loves a bargain.
    Joe Biden certainly is attempting a very good thing by getting the US,Taiwan,Japan,S Korea and Nl together to deny China advanced technology, this would go a long way towards reducing China’s build another huge coal plant every two days policy.

    • “but it is a long jump to think China would surpass the US in anything but pollution, which they accomplished years ago”

      pretty ignorant thing to say

      I bet you don’t know about that (because people saying such things, almost never do any research, happy to live in their “USA the best, nr 1 in everything” bubbles).

      “China overtakes the US in terms of research quality, finds study”

      from the article
      “The quality of China’s scientific research output exceeded that of the US in 2019. That is according to a new analysis by researchers in the US, which also found that China had already overtaken the European Union in terms of research quality by 2015”

      Not output but quality

        • If you are talking about the mrna stuff, it was a massive failure

          They failed their 6 month safety study, which was taking 45k people giving half the vaccine and half the placebo and then waiting 6 months

          There are 237 comments on this medrxiv paper


          – COVID-19 cases after dose 2: 77 (vax) vs. 850 (placebo) hinting at 91.3% protection
          – no difference in cases for those with prior infection
          – deaths during blinded period: 15 (vax) vs. 14 (placebo)
          – COVID deaths during blinded period: 1 (vax) vs. 2 (placebo)
          – deaths during total period: 20 (vax) vs. 14 (placebo)

          150 severe reactions in placebo group vs 262 in vaccine group

          Basically the science showed that intervention was more dangerous than no intervention!

          Every country that demanded to run their own safety trials, got refused by Pfizer and ended up using China’s vaccine instead

          Pfizer had 1 failed trial, yet the FDA approved it and then bullied their allies into taking it

          And now excess deaths are still up while they aren’t for countries that took sinovac

          • You didn’t even read the paper you linked. The vaccine caused LESS “life threatening events” than the placebo, while cutting the amount of covid cases by over 95%.
            Just give up. You guessed wrong. The medical companies succeeded. The world was saved from a major catastrophe. You should be happy, not trying to imagine a disaster that did not happen.

      • No,Chinerse who have become Americans,do great scientific research, not China,they spent hundreds of billions on their advanced chip projects without anything to show for it as the entire country is so greedy they steal everything from each other,including food, which is why in my lifetime 40 million died of hunger amid the richest farmland on Earth.
        I do admire many segments of their economy and R and D,like their nuclear power program and wind industry, but they still are committed to killing us all by building coal plants as fast as possible, like you say,the mark of a really advanced scientific nation.

  4. Zeihan was just on the Joe Rogan podcast this week explaining to Joe why Mao (who died in 1976) implemented China’s ‘one child policy’ (in 1980)

    Peter (garbage in, garbage out) Zeihan.

    • The policy started in Rudong in 73 and became NATIONAL policy in 1979 (not 1980). Per the BBC:
      “The policy came into effect here first, under Chairman Mao Zedong, and once it had become national policy, in 1979, Rudong’s diligent family planning officials went about enforcing it with unrivalled zeal and enthusiasm.

      One retired senior official recently gave an interview to Chinese state media in which he describes hunting down pregnant women, carting them off to hospital and then guarding them during their forced abortions.”

  5. Nine out of the ten last articles are to push Tesla, you have become such a shill for Elon Musk is not even funny.

    • The future car industry is going to be split between Tesla and Chinese car companies

      Already established ICE companies have not built anything like the model Y that can compete on a mass market scale

      And there is a large market full of people who will simply refuse a Chinese car even if the Chinese car had the same cost and could go 1000 KM

      Also due to Tesla being tapped into China and partnered with CATL they are likely to get access to any advanced batteries produced by China

      >CATL Qilin Battery With 1000 Kilometer Range Coming In 2023

      >CATL says its new Qilin battery has 13% more energy density than Tesla’s 4680 cells and can go 1000 km without recharging.

  6. Eventually, batteries will advance to the point that minerals like lithium are no longer necessary. What that’d look like is beyond me, but we’ll get there. Zeihan is definitely being wrong for the sake of being wrong, and probably short term cash.

  7. Ultimately all this annoying activity of him comes from the scarcity mentality. He needs to work to pay bills and his idea,plan for himself is all this doom and gloom predictions and being kind of professional futurist.

    The truth is that most of us(more than 99,9999%) of humanity have this strong scarcity mentality deeply programmed into us, constanly thinking about working. Working to survive, pay bills, have as good quality of life as possible. It’s also responsible for tribalism, it’s modern, mutated form – nationalism, and more generally tensions between tribes/nations.

    Even many millionaires and billionaires still have such mentality, even enormous wealth can be lost fast and they can go bankrupt.

    Musk lost $200 billion of his forune in the last year or so. I am sure he is not happy with this, he won’t give up and will be trying doing things to not go down more but to beat new wealth records. Even if Tesla will collapse/go down to $20 I still think if SpaceX will pull off Starship and will go public, it will easy become $1-10T company(because space mining etc.) and he has like 50% stake in SpaceX. So IF(big IF), Starship will work, he will become a trillionaire soon. With enormous wealth, you can change the world, so it’s not a bad pursuit.

    This is all pre AGI or maybe early AGI era. but

    I hope that when we will have AGI/ASI(soon), it will bring us post scarcity world. Our culture and thinking will change if we will spend some time in such world. We will adapt and get used to it quickly. It won’t take decades or hundreds of years. A lot of nonsense, hostility, stupid things like for example mocking other people/countries for money will disappear.

    This is my prediction, I hope we will see such change before 2040, even around 2030 or earlier.

    • He is just a grifter, he pushes views that will make him money and attention, he is a guy with 2 bachelors degrees, no peer reviewed research papers, pretends to be a china expert despite having never lived in China, and being unable to speak or read chinese.

      The vast majority of economists believe that China will overtake the US? Say the opposite and predict that China will collapse, end up being wrong? No problem just push the date back

      The vast majority of the engineers and scientists who think EV’s are the future? Say the opposite

      Zeihan caters to the dumb nationalistic Americans, the side he takes is actually extremely predictable pro vaccine, pro NATO, pro ukraine, anti china, anti ev, pro nuclear, pro immigration

      >Specific arguments aside, the greatest shadow over Zeihan’s credibility has been his own minor case of Gordon Chang Syndrome. While working for Stratfor, Zeihan co-authored the group’s 2005 and 2010 decade forecasts, in both cases predicting that China would suffer a Japan-style economic meltdown and collapse by 2015 at the latest. In 2011, he followed up with a talk in which he claimed that the Chinese system would only last for another “three to five years.”

      >At the beginning of last year, Zeihan asserted a new deadline of 2030 for China’s collapse; four months later, he wrote a newsletter titled “The Beginning of the End of China,” in which he predicted that the pandemic-driven depression of Chinese exports would continue (in fact, exports and GDP growth rebounded almost immediately.)

        • Xbb is only a mild illness, hospitals in china are empty and the people are walking around on the streets

          You can look at vlogs from youtubers who are walking around vlogging,

          Meanwhile a million+ people in the us have died from covid and many more unaccounted for excess deaths

          >While there is no evidence so far that XBB.1.5 is more virulent than its predecessors

          >Virologists who studied XBB.1.5 say it does not appear better at escaping antibodies than other immune-evading predecessors, but it is better at binding to the cell and replicating. That means it can more easily become the dominant strain in a community than its relatives, but it doesn’t necessarily worsen an individual’s covid symptoms.

          >At some level, we are going to have to get used to mild illness unless you want to take three doses a year and stay in your house most of the time,” said Offit, who also advises the Food and Drug Administration on vaccines

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