Panasonic at the reins of EV battery market

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Lux Research’s latest report on the energy storage market for electric vehicles (EVs) reveals that Panasonic has managed to become the runaway leader in the nascent battery market for EVs with a 39% market share.

The company has one deal that adds up to large volumes, with Tesla Motors. This single deal has managed to give Panasonic the upper hand over more than a dozen other deals that competitors like LG Chem and Samsung have managed to strike up with automotive companies.

Nevertheless, the report states that the lead Panasonic has built for itself could be narrowed by the likes of LG Chem by 2020. And having high reliance on one deal could be risky. Tesla for one has a less than 0.1% share in global automotive sales. German automotive leaders like Volkswagen are expecting to churn out 20 plug-in options by 2020.

LG Chem is already collaborating with automotive bigwigs like General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler and Ford. If a surge in sales happens for plug-in hybrid vehicles by the German manufacturers, LG Chem only needs to win over Japanese company Nissan to take the first spot in this segment.

Renault-Nissan is expected to account for 9% of this market segment in 2020. LG Chem already supplies Renault and has the potential to win over Nissan as well, thanks to AESC’s underperformance. AESC is Renault-Nissan’s joint venture, which sources batteries from NEC, and the company has been not doing well, plagued by high costs and technology that is falling behind.

Next generation technology

The next generation technology holds the key to take the throne in the EV battery market. The developments in the field have to go beyond lithium-ion options and reduce costs and boost performance. Samsung Ventures for one has already invested in solid-state battery developer, Seeo and in graphene-silicon anode maker, XG Sciences. Volkswagen has backed Quantumscape and GM Ventures has invested in Sakti3, Envia Systems, and SolidEnergy Systems.

"The battery world’s big three – Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung SDI – are engaged in an all-out war for market share in the emerging plug-in vehicle opportunity, yet their strategies differ wildly," said Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Senior Analyst and lead author of the report.

pv magazine recently published a Storage Special, with in-depth features, interviews, market analysis and 20 of the most exciting battery technologies of the moment. It is available to download for free.