The shift from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) to lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries represents a major endorsement of this chemistry as well as its ability to perform consistently in an automotive environment.
The technology continues to improve, and leading battery cell manufacturers have built new factories utilizing the latest production techniques including greater automation and faster throughput.
Pike Research forecasts that the overall market for Li-ion batteries in light duty transportation will grow from $1.6 billion in 2012 to almost $22 billion in 2020.
The market for Li-ion batteries will primarily be driven by the growth of battery electric vehicles as they utilize much larger battery packs than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Today’s electric vehicles use battery packs ranging from 16 kWh to 85 kWh compared to plug-in hybrids that typically use packs ranging from 4 kWh to16 kWh. Additionally, many recently introduced hybrid vehicles are using lithium ion batteries, and the percentage of hybrids using the technology is expected to grow steadily as models go through their update cycles.
Asia Pacific region will continue to be the global leader in both Li-ion production and consumption in the transportation industry, with support by major governments for aggressive goals in plug-in vehicle production, creation of charging infrastructure, and incentives for consumer purchases.
Pike forecasts that China will likely succeed Japan as the leader in global automotive Li-ion battery production by 2015.
Although vehicle sales in North America represent some 37% of global light-duty automotive battery revenue, the US Li-ion battery manufacturing industry is still in an early stage of development. Pike expects the US Department of Energy to continue its strong financial support for the industry through at least 2015 in an effort to meet the stated objective of increasing the US share of the global Li-ion battery market to 40%.