According to industry sources, the global total electric vehicle (EV) sales increased by 47 percent from a year ago during the first three quarters of this year based on governments’ incentives and the recent Volkswagen scandal. The EV sales volume is forecast to skyrocket from 0.5 million to 3.93 million between this year and 2020. Under the circumstances, competition among EV battery manufacturers is expected to become increasingly intense.
LG Chem, Samsung SDI, Panasonic and BYD are predicted to become more successful than the rest in the near future. Although AESC took the top spot in the market last year, experts point out that AESC has its own limitations because it is a combination of an automaker (Nissan) and an electronics manufacturer (NEC).
These days, the prices of EV batteries are on a rapid decline. Specifically, the price per kilowatt dropped from over US$550 to US$200 or so between 2010 and this year. Different companies are using different methods nowadays for further price reduction. For example, Panasonic and Tesla are searching for their answer in the Gigafactory, the largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world. Their idea is to save at least 30 percent of costs by the economy of scale.
In the meantime, Samsung SDI and LG Chem are concentrating on flat can-type and pouch-type batteries, respectively. The former is characterized by high levels of durability and shock resistance whereas the latter can come in various shapes. The two Korean companies are striving to reduce the production costs of their batteries by means of mass production and material replacement. LG Chem is currently supplying its products for the GM Volt at no more than US$145 per kilowatt.
BYD, a Chinese company, is focusing on relatively cheaper lithium-ion phosphate batteries, which are considered to be suitable for Chinese battery manufacturers with a lower level of technological finesse.