Battery Market for Electric Vehicles

LG Chem has completed the lithium ion batteries plant, which is capable of powering 100,000 electric cars per year. When completed, LG Chem will be able to make lithium ion batteries for 350,000 electric vehicles a year, and the firm said it was aiming to increase its share of the global electric car battery market to more than 25 percent by 2015. President Lee Myung-bak, GM Vice Chairman Stephen J. Girsky and LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo were among those on hand to celebrate.

Mr. Vijayendra Rao, Research Manager, Asia Pacific Automotive & Transportation Practice at Frost & Sullivan said that lithium polymer battery are being used for future hybrids and electric cars mainly due to 25-35 per cent higher power and 35-40 per cent energy density as compared to other battery types such as nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) and lead acid.

Lithium polymer battery for hybrids is expected to increase at a CAGR of 48 per cent (2010-2016) to reach 128,000 units in 2016 while the adoption for electric vehicles are expected increase at a CAGR of 181.7 per cent to reach 73,500 units in 2016.

Mr. Rao said that most of the hybrid electric vehicles in South Korea such as Hyundai Avante hybrid, Kia Forte hybrid and future models such as Hyundai YF Sonata hybrid, Hyundai i-flow hybrid will be equipped with lithium polymer batteries due to advantages in terms of energy and power density as compared to NiMH batteries.

"Plug-in hybrid models such as Hyundai Blue will and Kia Ray will also adopt lithium polymer batteries and lead batteries," he added.

Mr. Rao noted that NiMH batteries are mostly used in hybrid electric vehicles due to mass commercialization of these batteries by Japanese OEMs such as Toyota and Honda and the battery technology is already proven for the past few years. However future hybrid electric vehicles are likely to be equipped with Lithium Polymer batteries due to advantages in terms of energy and power density. Frost & Sullivan estimates NiMH battery for hybrid electric vehicles to grow at a CAGR of 23.8 per cent to reach 3,100 units in 2016.

He noted that mild and full hybrid models that are imported such as Honda Civic hybrid, Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Lexus GS 450 are using NiMH batteries in South Korea.

He estimates that the lead acid battery market for hybrids and electric vehicles in South Korea to grow at a CAGR of 2.4 per cent to 164,000 units in 2016 due to an expected increase in hybrids and electric vehicles in the country.

Mr. Rao said that battery manufacturers need to improve their technology in order to tap into the lucrative hybrid and electric vehicles market optimally. "Manufacturers need to develop more advanced battery technologies such as zinc-air (non-rechargeable) batteries that help increase range and top speed especially in EVs," he added.

He said that lithium-ion battery is currently at a testing stage and some OEMs are likely to commercialise it in the near future but the technology is not proven as yet. Mr. Rao said that OEMs need to develop a variety of hybrid and electric car models to compete with conventional vehicles.

He added that mass production of hybrid and electric vehicles are likely to bring down the price of batteries by 15-20 per cent in the next 5-6 years. "However, the low pricing of batteries may not last long due to the increase in raw materials prices," he said.

Mr. Rao also said that power electronics suppliers have a wide range of opportunities for the integration of battery monitoring units for battery application in hybrid and EVs. He added that the battery control unit is integrated along with the battery and will be controlled by a centralised hybrid or EV controller.

"Batteries are likely to be the main storage units and will influence the future design and testing of vehicles for OEMs," notes Mr. Rao. "OEMs and suppliers have to collaborate closely to develop batteries to catalyse the commercialization of alternative powertrain vehicles," he added.