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Report predicts lithium-ion battery production boom

IDTechEx report points to huge changes in the electric vehicle business

Published: July 14, 2019, 2:30 AM
Updated: July 20, 2019, 3:34 AM

Volkswagen MEB platform

A report from emerging technology analysis and research company IDTechEx points to a massive market shift in the production and distribution of Lithium Ion batteries (LIB) in the coming decade.

Toyota Prius Prime PHEV battery

The report, “Lithium-Ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles 2020-2030,” predicts huge changes in the electric vehicle business, especially in the way EVs store energy. IDTechEx sees a burgeoning demand for small batteries, as menial, time-consuming tasks such as garden weeding are taken over by robots, Similarly, the company also sees an increase in giant batteries for vehicles such as airplanes, cargo ships, and heavy machinery such as mining trucks.

However, the largest market will continue to be personal and commercial vehicles, as more auto companies sign on to the electrification mindset.

Mercedes-Benz EQC battery

“Reinvented lithium-ion batteries will be the clear winner, with only a minority of their business threatened by alternatives such as other advanced batteries and supercapacitors even in 2030, unless there are shortages of good product,” says Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx. “Our forecasts reflect the fact that engineers are working round the excessive percentage of vehicle cost represented by the battery. IDTechEx calculates that the batteries will drop to only 18% of the ex-factory price of EVs as a whole in 2030. That is still a huge demand, way in excess of battery manufacturing commitments, though these are increasing over time so they may or may not be enough on the day.”

IDTechEx predicts EV demand will surpass $3 billion, if unconstrained by LEB supply or failure to meet cost promises. That is closer to happening now that Thailand has thrown its hat into battery production, promising an estimated 100 GWh of production by 2030.

Biomega SIN concept

The biggest challenge, though, is that battery evolution may be speeded up to meet production targets, which could have sometimes catastrophic results, such as facility shutdowns for a variety of reasons — facility fires and resource shortages, to name just two.

“Much of the industry is cutting corners in changing every aspect of the battery while scaling up rapidly and we predict that fires and shutdowns will sometimes result,” says Das. “For example, many extrapolate ongoing sharp reduction in cell cost beyond 2025 despite more expensive materials being introduced in the race for higher energy density. We disagree.”