New study sees rapid growth for advanced batteries
"We expect the global market for Li-ion batteries to leap from the current volume of $1.5 billion to almost $9 billion in 2015," says Wolfgang Bernhart, Partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. "In our best-case scenario, worldwide market volume may even grow to over $50 billion by 2020. As sales surge, Japanese and Korean carmakers will be doing everything they can to establish themselves as the leading global providers of alternative drive technologies. Their share of worldwide production will reach about 40% in 2015. But auto production in the Asian factories will be dominated by hybrid vehicles by using, for the most part, nickel-metal-hybrid batteries.
The downside of the rapid growth is that it likely to be accompanied by substantial overcapacity, meaning there could be twice as many batteries as buyers require, which should set the stage for consolidation. The five front-runners in lithium-ion batteries – AESC, LG Chem, Panasonic/Sanyo, A123 and SB LiMotive – can, between them, be expected to control almost 80 percent of the market by 2015. Both A123 and LG Chem have made substantial investments in Michigan. Overall, Roland Berger's experts expect the light vehicle, such as passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, to account for more than 80 percent of total market value for Li-ion battery systems by the middle of the decade. By then, 2.5 million hybrids, 300,000 plug-in hybrids and 500,000 electric vehicles will be coming off production lines each year. As sales surge, Japanese and Korean carmakers will be doing everything they can to establish themselves as the leading global providers of alternative drive technologies.
In the case of electric-drive buses, China will certainly be a front-runner in coming years. The Roland Berger experts estimate that around 80 percent of Li-ion batteries for buses will be sold in China by 2015. "This is due to the highly ambitious plans of the Chinese government. It is targeting investment at growth industries and is also keen to improve air quality in the cities," explains Thomas Wendt, co-author of the study. "By contrast, the Chinese electric car market will initially see slower growth than Western markets," adds Bernhart. "Above all, that's due to the changed priorities of the Chinese government. As a first step, it's focusing on hybrid vehicles, with pure electric drives or plug-ins taking second place for a while," Bernhart said. By Joseph Szczesny