According to market research firm SNE Research, Panasonic reached 4,974.9 MWh in shipments of secondary batteries for use in electric vehicles for the first seven months of this year. Its market share soared to 24.9% based on its product supply to Tesla.
Likewise, PEVE and AESC raised their market shares to more than 5% and came in sixth and seventh, respectively. The combined market share of the three Japanese companies reached 35.3%.
CATL and BYD, which are Chinese companies, took the third and fourth spots with 10.3% and 9.5%, respectively. LG Chem came in second with 11.7% and Samsung SDI ranked fifth with 6.1%.
Japanese companies are expected to continue to distinguish themselves by leading the manufacturing of next-generation batteries. For example, Murata and Toyota are planning to start the production of all-solid-state batteries in 2019 and 2021, respectively. Existing lithium-ion batteries based on liquid electrolytes may explode whereas all-solid-state batteries, which use solid electrolytes, are safer and capable of doubling or tripling the driving ranges of electric vehicles. From 2006 to 2015, Toyota applied for 24 patents regarding the technology and it was followed by Sony and Murata. They applied for eight and seven patents related to it during the same period, respectively.
Chinese companies, in the meantime, are focusing on secondary battery materials such as cobalt and nickel. Last year, China Molybdenum purchased 56% of shares in cobalt and copper mines located in Congo. Based on the purchase of the mines with an annual output of 16,000 tons, China’s share in the global refined cobalt market jumped to 62%. In addition, China’s current share in the global lithium market amounts to 44% and its rare earth mineral production accounts for no less than 90% of the global total.
Samsung SDI has competed with Chinese companies in Chile since August this year for a lithium mining and processing business license. A total of six companies passed the first phase of the tender and half of the six are Chinese companies. The entire process is scheduled to be completed early next year. LG International is looking to make an investment in mines, too. However, investment in mines takes at least five years to become profitable in many cases.
Nevertheless, LG Chem’s and Samsung SDI’s shares in the global electric vehicle battery market rose by 160.7% and 89.1% from a year ago this year, respectively. Samsung SDI unveiled its all-solid-state batteries at Interbattery 2017, which took place in Seoul last month. LG Chem is currently spending 41% of its R&D expenses on battery development.