The race to power electric vehicles has set off a competition to capture lithium. That’s a troubling sign for batteries.

Investors recently got very excited when Tesla Inc. and Ganfeng Lithium Co. signed a three-year deal for battery-grade lithium hydroxide products from 2022 to 2024. Separately, a bidding war for Millennial Lithium Corp. is heating up. Others have been rushing to secure lithium supplies, too.

With EV sales growing and demand set to stay high for a while, it makes sense to lock in what’s needed for these new-age cars. Global lithium consumption is estimated to grow fivefold by end of this decade, BloombergNEF reported.