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Battery Makers Facing Shake-Out

A123’s failure likely to be followed by others, warns new study.

by on Oct.23, 2012

The auto industry could see a shake-out among its battery suppliers.

The consolidation in the business of making lithium-ion batteries, a key component in electric vehicles, is moving faster than expected – the recent bankruptcy and sale of A123’s automotive operations to JCI just the latest example.

The consulting firm of Roland Berger predicted a consolidation back in 2010. But in an update to the report issued this week, it is saying the shake-out is unfolding faster than expected and predicts only six to eight international players in lithium battery production will remain in the market by 2017.

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The move could head off a potentially devastating price war among competitors at a time of unexpectedly slow sales of battery-based vehicles. But for auto manufacturers, that could translate into higher component costs that, in turn, slow the growth in demand for electrified vehicles, some analysts warn.

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Global Lithium-Ion Auto Battery Sales Set to Grow 600% by 2015.

New study: Demand could hit $50 billion by decade’s end.

by on Sep.08, 2011

Demand for lithium-ion batteries - for vehicles like the upcoming Toyota RAV4-EV - is expected to jump 600% by 2015, and another 500+% by 2020.

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.

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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.

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