Beyond Lithium Ion: The Future of the Global Battery Market

- July 12th, 2016

Currently, lithium ion batteries reign supreme. But the market may see some shifting competition in the next ten years.

The push towards cleantech solutions in transportation, energy and consumer electronics means that the lithium ion battery market is incredibly strong right now. In particular, the global shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) has been boosting the market. Meanwhile, the high cost of entering the lithium ion battery market means that it’s doubtful we’ll see significantly more competition entering the lithium ion market in the coming years. What all this means is that those companies already operating successfully in the lithium ion space are sure to see an excellent return on investment in the near future.
However, this sort of market, where demand continues to spike and competition remains constant, can’t last forever. Indeed, industry watchers are already anticipating shifts in the market place.

Growing market for electric vehicles

The market for EVs is growing rapidly and the market for lithium ion batteries is benefiting from this growth. BCG published a report titled “Batteries for Electric Cars: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Outlook to 2020,” that estimates that the market for electric-car batteries will reach about $25 billion by 2020. With an estimated 14 million electric cars forecasted to be sold across China, Japan, the US and Western Europe, it stands to reason that the corresponding battery market will be exhibiting concurrent growth. Currently, lithium ion batteries have a monopoly on this $25 billion market. However, this could shift over the next decade.

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The rise of next generation batteries

Lux Research has found that, although incremental improvements may extend the dominance of lithium ion batteries over the next ten years, a new generation of batteries will eventually displace their monopoly on the EV market. And this shift may occur sooner that you’d think: the research group anticipates that this new market of next-generation battery technologies will be worth a whopping $10 billion by 2030.
Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Senior Analyst and author of the report The Next-Generation Battery Roadmap: Quantifying How Solid-State, Lithium-Sulfur, and Other Batteries Will Emerge After 2020” stated that “next-generation battery developers are pursuing technology improvements and mass-production scale-up, though incumbent Li-ion is still improving quickly, thanks to massive investments. . . . Companies with an important stake in the battery market should invest in next-generation batteries as well as advances in Li-ion, to make sure they maintain a strong position as the technology mix shifts.”
Therefore, savvy investors should keep an eye on both the lithium-ion batter market and next-generation competitors in coming years. In particular, lithium-sulfur will jump from $6 billion in 2030 to $29 billion in 2035 in the transportation market, while solid-state batteries will climb from $3 billion to $42 billion over the same period.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Morag McGreevey, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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