In this research, expert analysts thoroughly examine the following technologies: flooded (wet) cell construction and sealed (VRLA) cell construction. Reliability and efficiency are the key factors driving growth in the world motive lead acid battery market.
Being rugged in construction, these batteries have the capability to withstand extreme temperatures and can perform well even with exposure to atmospheric conditions. Apart from these features, affordable pricing is another reason for wide utilization of this chemistry in motive applications despite other chemistries prevailing in this market.
The market is well established and technologically mature, expanding its end-user application by utilization in fast growing neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). Most of the developed and a few developing countries are promoting usage of electric vehicles (EVs) through policies and regulations.
Demand for electric vehicles largely promotes the demand for lithium-ion batteries in developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. With high unit pricing and reduced lead costs, profit margins of vendors have increased leading to revenue growth in this market.
Small city electric vehicles (SCEVs) and golf carts, which are powered by lead acid batteries, are poised for high adoption and will uplift market prospects.
The proliferation of industrial activities has revved up the demand for material handling equipment, in turn, promoting the battery market. As valve-regulated lead-acid battery (VRLA) batteries require very low maintenance, they are highly suitable for applications in remote locations. Demand from the mining industry has provided positive momentum for the market.
Although market prospects look upbeat, there are some challenges restraining market progression. The economic slowdown had dampened the demand for motive lead acid batteries. Industrial and mining activities had experienced a severe downturn. Reduced demand for these motive applications and other applications resulted in a declining trend in the lead metal prices by the end of 2008.
However, the signs of recovery began from the Asia Pacific region with slow increase in industrial and mining activities in Australia, and China. Lead acid batteries used in motive applications face competition from other chemistries that include nickle cadium, lithium-ion and others.
Lithium-ion batteries compete with lead acid batteries in the EV battery market. Cost being the only favorable factor for lead acid chemistry, it faces the threat of partial replacement by lithium-ion chemistry in city electric vehicles (CEVs), NEVs, and high performance electric vehicles (HPEVs).
In addition, the low levels of technology advancement in lead acid batteries compared to other chemistries are restraining the pace of market growth. Technical advancement has been slow in these batteries since they were invented about 130 years ago.
Additionally, the lead acid batteries offered by various major participants at present do not vary significantly in terms of functionality. Hence, the customer base is largely dependent on brand loyalty and service offered by the major participants. In a highly competitive and mature market, this low product differentiation affects revenue growth owing to low profit margins.
Advancements in electrode material have led to optimized efficiency, energy density, and performance, opening up new avenues for motive applications. Lead acid battery chemistry is the oldest that has been in existence for more than a century. There are specific applications, which cannot be powered by any other chemistry; hence, demand in this market is likely to remain steady.
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