Korea tops global lithium-ion battery market

According to Japanese market researcher Techno Systems Research, Korea’s global market share in lithium-ion batteries in the second quarter of this year recorded 42.6 percent, up 4.9 percentage points from that of the previous quarter. Japan’s global market share was 33.7 percent in the second quarter, dropping 4.3 percentage points from that of the first quarter.

First developed by Japan’s leading electronic maker Sony in 1991, the lithium-ion battery is used to power cell phones, computers, and electric vehicles.

Japan has historically been the leader in the world’s lithium-ion battery market. In 2008, Japan accounted for more than half of the global market share, whereas Korea secured a 21-percent market share.

But a higher yen exchange rate weakened the price competitiveness of Japanese manufacturers while Korean firms took advantage of the weaker won, unleashing aggressive marketing strategies.

In the first quarter of this year, Korea narrowed the market share gap between Japan which secured a 38-percent share by recording a market share of 37.7 percent.

Two Korean firms — Samsung SDI and LG Chem — have been producing lithium-ion batteries domestically while Panasonic and Sony of Japan are the leading lithium-ion battery producers in Japan.

Samsung secured the highest global market share of 25.4 percent, followed by Sanyo which accounted for 18.4 percent. LG Chem recorded 17.3 percent, ranking third, followed by Sony and Panasonic which took the fourth and fifth ranks with 7.9 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

Growing sales of Korean-made smartphones overseas helped Korean firms lead the global lithium-ion battery market. The massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern region of Japan earlier this year also caused production difficulties for Japanese battery makers and disrupted the supply of parts and materials.