A new study finds reason to be charged up about lithium-ion batteries. It anticipates sales of the technology will grow by 600% between now and 2015 as more and more makers bring out hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles.
The report, by the Roland Berger consultancy, anticipates sales could then surge from $9 billion to $50 billion worldwide by 2020.
The new study, meanwhile, anticipates that while a growing number of companies are getting into the automotive lithium-ion game, the market will be increasingly dominated by five companies, including American A123.
Until recently, automakers like Toyota – with its popular Prius – have relied on time-tested nickel-metal hydride batteries and that has meant that lithium suppliers were largely focused on consumer electronics markets, such as cellphones and laptop computers and, more recently, devices like the wildly popular Apple iPad.
But automakers are rapidly migrating to more advanced LIon systems in conventional hybrids – the first to market was the lithium-powered Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – to take advantage of more compact packaging, lighter weight and increased energy density. The ramp-up of automotive demand will only accelerate as new plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles, and battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, go into production.