The Global Race For Grid-Ready Electric Vehicles Has Started

Several grid-ready electric vehicles are scheduled to be introduced to the market from late 2010 to 2012. Boosted by subsidies, several U.S. battery suppliers are expanding their capacity. Lured by the optimistic market forecast, battery producers in Japan, Korea, and China are also expanding. The success of grid-ready vehicles in the next five years will hinge on the performance and cost of the lithium ion secondary battery. Today, SRI Consulting’s (SRIC) Process Economics Program (PEP) published the review Lithium for Electric Vehicles—a Technology and Economic Assessment that examines the status of the technology and assesses the current production costs along the value chain from lithium carbonate to cell components, battery cells, and battery packs.

Based on the cost structure, the review offers a realistic sales estimate of electric vehicles by 2015 and its impact on the demand of lithium vehicle batteries as well as the supply of lithium chemicals. Author and Director of SRIC’s Process Economics Program, R.J. Chang commented, “The world has ample reserve to accommodate future lithium demand growth for years to come, even if the grid-ready vehicles eventually take a significantly large share of the global auto production.” Mr. Chang continued, “By 2015, the world is estimated to have the capacity to make batteries for nearly 400,000 electric cars. A little more than half of that capacity will be in the U.S., largely due to government subsidies.”

The Lithium for Electric Vehicles—a Technology and Economic Assessment review also investigates the technical requirements of lithium ion batteries, the state of technology development, and performance and cost targets which hold the key to future cost reduction and demand growth. Chemistry and structure of secondary (rechargeable) lithium ion battery cells are covered, and the current performance characteristics of key components—cathode, anode and electrolyte—are presented.