|The market for Li-ion automotive batteries will be dominated by full hybrid applications in 2015, according to Dr. Anderman. Click to enlarge.|
Dr. Menahem Anderman, the president of Advanced Automotive Batteries, projects that the automotive lithium-ion market could reach $1.6 billion in 2015, up almost five-fold from $337M in 2012, propelled largely by a dramatic expansion in the use of Li-ion batteries in strong (or full) hybrid applications. Anderman bases his forecasts on his work with automotive OEMs, battery manufacturers and materials suppliers.
According to the forecast, strong hybrid applications will account for 78% of the market in 2015, reaching $1.26 billion—more than six times the 2012 figures of $196 million, which represents 58% of that projected market. Dr. Anderman released his projections publicly during a presentation of his analysis of the value proposition for automotive Li-ion batteries at the Advanced Automotive Battery & Ultracapacitor Conference (AABC) 2008, running in Tampa, Florida this week.
The opportunity is in the high-volume strong hybrids. We could have more than $1 billion by 2015, assuming no major safety incident with Lithium-ion.—Dr. Menahem Anderman
Lithium-ion batteries could also see strong growth in the upper end of the micro-hybrid market (stop-start with regenerative braking) and in mild hybrid applications, Anderman said. For micro hybrid applications, Li-ion faces competition from VRLA (lead-acid) batteries and VRLA-Ultracapacitor systems. Toyota, he noted has the most data on the life and performance data on a Li-ion pack for such an application, via the Toyota Intelligent Idling Stop System in the Vitz.
For mild hybrids such as Honda hybrids, the size and weight of Li-ion is attractive compared to NiMH, and the cost per pack can be similar. The main issue here is that impedance rise must be manageable, Anderman said, and life and safety achieved in a single design.
Suppressing impedance rise over life is necessary to enable OEMs to take advantage of the higher power and energy density of NiMH by spec’ing lower Wh batteries into applications. Cost parity with NiMH per kWh can be achieved at similar production volumes if manufacturing yields are proven. Cost parity with NiMH per kW will be reached earlier, he said, so that for applications which are kW driven, Li-ion will become cost-competitive sooner.
Considering the rate of progress of Li-ion technology, lower cost per kWh enabled by lower cost material is likely in the longer term, provided the materials meet the life requirements. Future nickel cost—the key material cost driver for NiMH—is also an unknown factor.
Anderman is not bullish on the prospects of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), at least based on the economics of it. Retrofitting an existing platform is not really attractive, based on annual fuel cost saving and the loss of cargo space, and designing new platforms for plug-ins is “difficult to justify considering the questionable value proposition and the financial risks involved.” His assessment is that plug-ins with a 10-mile electric range using a blended strategy make the most financial sense, even with gasoline prices reaching $8/gallon.
If we just look at NPV [net present value], this [PHEV 10B] is where we should stay. This is just a financial analysis.—Dr. Menahem Anderman
Accordingly, Anderman’s projections for PHEVs are rather low: 5,000 PHEV 10B units in 2012, rising to 10,000 units in 2015; and 200 PHEV 40s (all electric) in 2012 rising to 1,000 in 2015.