Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Small Batteries Power Biggest Growth in the EV Market Says Lux

The overall market for energy storage technologies that power electric vehicles is set to grow from $13 billion in 2011 to $30 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18%. But, while prominent plug-in passenger cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf grab most of the headlines, the bulk of future growth will be driven by more humble vehicles, such as e-bikes and micro-hybrids, according to a new report from Lux Research.

Titled “Small Batteries, Big Sales: The Unlikely Winners in the Electric Vehicle Market,” the report offers a reality check on the hype surrounding batteries for electric passenger cars by looking at the overall market for electric vehicles. Specifically, it provides both a bottom-up analysis of the potential for storage technologies, including batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells, as well as a top-down analysis of the demand generated for these technologies by different vehicle types, including e-bikes, passenger vehicles, buses and trains.

“Although battery prices for all-electric and hybrid passenger cars are dropping, they’re not dropping far enough or quickly enough to fuel the sort of broad adoption that advocates expect,” said Kevin See, a Lux Analyst and the report’s lead author. “Instead, the substantial growth we see for vehicle-related storage technologies will be powered mostly by e-bikes – which are shifting from lead acid to Li-ion battery technology – and microhybrids, which offer a more incremental, low-risk way for automakers to improve fuel efficiencies.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Micro-hybrids offer auto OEMs the shortest road to improved fuel efficiency. Micro-hybrids, which apply energy storage only toward start-stop and/or regenerative braking applications, require neither the drastic redesigns nor the more expensive battery costs that all-electric or hybrid electric vehicles do. Thus, they are set to surpass these other passenger vehicle types in terms of both total storage and dollars in 2016, growing from 5.1 GWh and $495 million, to 41 GWh and $3.1 billion – CAGRs of 52% and 44%, respectively.

  • E-bikes pack minimal storage but compensate with sheer volume. Although their 0.4 kWh to 1.0 kWh of storage is a far cry from the Nissan Leaf’s 24-kWh battery pack, e-bikes will continue to dominate the overall market in terms of dollars and MWh. Replacement batteries for the currently deployed base – largely in China – plus strong growth in new sales will drive growth from 84.2 GWh and $12.0 billion in 2011, to 156.6 GWh and $24.3 billion in 2016, a CAGR of 13% in kWh and 15%in dollars.

  • Advanced lead-acid batteries dominate the current and future storage market. While Li-ion technology will eat into lead-acid sales for e-bikes, and supercapacitors will steal share in micro-hybrids, lead-acid will maintain a comfortable lead in both of these high-volume and growing markets. Overall, the market for lead-acid batteries will grow from 83 GWh and $9.4 billion in 2011, to 165GWh and $16.1 billion in 2016, CAGRs of 15% and 12%, respectively.

“Small Batteries, Big Sales: The Unlikely Winners in the Electric Vehicle Market,” is part of the Lux Electric Vehicles Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Electric Vehicles Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

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