Lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles to reach $14.6 billion by 2017

Over the past few years, the automotive industry has increased its focus on the electric car (EV) battery market by successfully introducing several new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) as the process of moving away from petroleum-based fuels and toward battery power intensifies.These vehicles will rely almost exclusively on lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries, while hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) will slowly switch from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) technology.According to a new report from Pike Research, the combined market for Li-ion batteries in HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs will soar over the next several years, increasing from $2.0 billion worldwide in 2011 to more than $14.6 billion by 2017.The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that capacity shipments of Li-ion batteries for the transportation market will increase from 2.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) to nearly 28.0 million kWh during the same period.

“The government subsidies that gave the initial impetus to the electric vehicle market will continue to drive the market in the near term,” says research director John Gartner.“However, significant reductions in battery cost are imperative for the industry to grow to its target levels.While the cost of lithium ion batteries is gradually declining, cost still represents a significant hurdle as it accounts for a large portion of total EV cost.”

Gartner adds that there are currently more than half a dozen battery chemistries with unique properties for power, energy density, and life cycle performance that are being commercialized.While Pike Research believes that there is no single chemistry that will emerge as the clear winner, owing to the tradeoffs in their various properties, initial indications point to a greater interest in the lithium iron phosphate chemistry in the years to come due to its superior performance characteristics coupled with increased safety.

Pike Research’s analysis indicates that nearly half the demand for Li-ion transportation batteries is likely to come from Asia, led primarily by China, while Europe and the United States are likely to constitute 25% and 21% shares of the world market, respectively.

Pike Research’s report, “Electric Vehicle Batteries”, outlines the critical role that governments around the globe will play in establishing the electric vehicle market, and the challenges that manufacturers face in creating an industry that will be able to stand on its own as government influence diminishes.The study examines the key market drivers for the electrification of vehicles, the status of R&D in batteries, the impact of declining battery production costs on vehicle sales, and the resale of batteries after their useful life in vehicles. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.