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Pike Research forecasts $18B market in 2020 for advanced lead-acid batteries, 58% in transportation

In a new report, Pike Research forecasts that the advanced lead-acid battery (LAB) market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8% over the next 8 years. Of the projected US$18-billion market in 2020, 58% of the sales will be from the transportation sector, historically one of the most of important industries for lead-acid batteries.

New applications will constitute the rest of the market volume, according to the report, “Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries”, driven by the expanding market potential of the global grid storage market. By 2020, Pike Research forecasts that advanced lead-acid batteries will capture roughly 25% of the global battery-based grid storage market, a small subset of the broader energy storage market. The market value for advanced lead-acid batteries in grid storage will be approximately $6.8 billion in 2020, according to Pike.

Lead-acid batteries, developed more than a century and one-half ago, have a long history of use in a large number of applications, including starter, lighting and ignition (SLI) in automobiles. However, notes Pike, new requirements in both mobile and stationary applications—ranging from electrified vehicles to energy storage on the power grid—are demanding more dynamic energy storage services. This in turn necessitates better technical performance characteristics (energy density, power density, charge acceptance) and lower lifecycle costs (improved battery cycle life). Conventional lead-acid batteries cannot provide the level of performance demanded by these emerging applications and complementary technologies, Pike notes.

The application segments covered in the report are:

  • Motive: hybrid locomotives, electric-powered forklifts
  • Transportation: stop-start vehicles (SSVs)
  • Stationary: utility-scale energy storage, community & residential energy storage (CRES), uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

Enhanced flooded batteries (EFBs) and absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries represent the bulk of existing advanced lead-acid market share, Pike says, while fast charging lead-acid batteries represent the future of the market. Fast-charging LABs include batteries with carbon additives and split electrode batteries such as the UltraBattery—a hybrid lead-acid battery and ultracapacitor. (Earlier post.)

Advanced lead-acid batteries represent a technology that bridges the gap between legacy forms of battery storage and the future market. The industry remains enthralled with the technical features of lithium ion batteries, and many stakeholders await the cost decreases that will enable mass market adoption; these are not likely to arrive until the latter part of this decade. As a result, advanced lead-acid batteries are well-positioned to capture early market share in motive, transportation, and stationary applications; transportation will be the most important market for advanced lead-acid batteries in the next several years.

This outlook—of near-term growth and sustained sales—represents good things for advanced lead-acid battery vendors, and these companies are well-positioned to provide these technologies. However, as the target applications for advanced lead-acid batteries evolve, as they inevitably are and will continue to, the competition from other advanced batteries will only increase. The technical features of advanced lead-acid batteries will need to be continuously revised and may ultimately prove insufficient for the most advanced energy storage applications if the technical features cannot be improved. These dynamics depend heavily on the future costs of advanced batteries of all chemistries.

—“Advanced Lead-Acid Batteries”



It is amazing to see how 150 years old technologies (ICEs and Lead batteries) are improved when pressured by the arrival of superior technologies (EVs and Li-Ons)?


The large driving force in batteries is the mandated EPA mileage requirements and the current high, unstable fuel prices, driven by speculation.


It makes you wonder what would have happened if we'd had a $1 billion/yr market for traction batteries starting in the early 1970's, which would have resulted if they'd first been used as energy buffers to minimize engine throttle transients for emissions control and then to shift energy use from petroleum to electricity after the oil-price spikes.  Not only would there have been much greater pressure for technical improvements, the sag in electric demand which set the nuclear industry back by 2 decades might never have happened.


There are three lead acid starter battery quality levels that you can buy. The two year, the four year and the six year batteries. The two year battery last four years, the four year battery last four years, and the six year battery last four years. Even for the grid stuff, these companies are only going to give us the quality and longevity that makes the most money for them. They have no interest in improving the lives of people through better technology. Unfortunately for them, HarveyD is correct, a superior technology has come along and they will not be able to compete. Li ion will likely replace lead acid because it is lighter, has a longer life and performs the tasks required equally well.


BK4, a quick search shows that lead-acid has a theoretical energy density of about 2 MJ/kg (550 Wh/kg), so substitution of carbon and other lightweight substances for lead in chemically-inactive functions could improve the performance to close to Li-ion levels.

Substituting non-corroding materials for lead in the electrical interconnects would remove one of the major degradation mechanisms too.

Ben Frigo-Vaz

I don't see how they are going to get around the specific energy limits of lead acid chemistry. Their is simply not enough space and weight for lead acid EV. They would need to increase performance considerably while NOT increasing price to become competitive with Li-Ion.


These LA batteries have been around for decades or century(s).

There's no mention of advanced anything.

'The application segments covered in the report are:' have been limited by lead-acid failings, especially weight, since day one.


It is amazing that anyone would think a 150 year old technology (Lead batteries) is competitive with Li-Ion batteries for EVs, and think the old technology is magically superior because it was pressured by the arrival of Li-Ion batteries.

“The large driving force in batteries is the mandated EPA mileage requirements and the current high, unstable fuel prices, driven by speculation.”
No, no, no, you don’t understand, it’s the arrival of Li-Ion batteries.

There are various lead acid starter battery quality levels that we can buy. Even for the grid stuff, customers are only going to buy the quality and longevity that saves the most money for them. They have no interest in improving the lives of people through better technology.

Apparently A123 tried to provide the worst quality they could (they are just like all the LAB battery makers) and look what happened to them.

Unfortunately for us all, many people do not realize that normal competition for sales constantly maintains competition and benefits us all. Li-Ion may eventually replace lead acid starter battery because it is lighter, has a longer life and performs the tasks required equally well - but is quite costly (like COST matters).

What happened in the early 1970's?

Simple; no one was foolish enough to try to make battery powered cars until 25 years later when CARB, inspired by the perceived potential for success in a GM concept car (Impact), mandated Zero Emission Vehicles and we got the ill fated EV1, an EV that preceded affordable batteries by more than 10 years.


Yes it is amazing that someone could take a 150 year old technology and increase its charge performance by 10X, possibly more.



People had been making battery-powered cars since the 19th century.  People had been making hybrid vehicles since Ferdinand Porsche during WWI.  People had been converting cars to PHEVs since at least the 1970's.

What happened in the early 1970's?
A confluence of pollution control imperatives (starting in the 1960's) and oil-price spikes (the OPEC shocks of 1973 and 1979).  The anti-smog concepts included steam engines and gas turbines, both of which avoid the high-pressure intermittent combustion which produces NOx.

Everyone knew that lead-acid batteries weren't up to powering mass-market vehicles.  An EV mandate could not create the capability ex nihilo.  Neither were there lots of consumer electronics until the 1980's; without a market for batteries, there's no money to develop and improve them.  Arguably it was laptop computers which created the market for batteries like NiMH, which in turn made the Prius and Insight possible.

Had US pollution and fuel economy regulations been written more intelligently, we would have likely had HEVs and PHEVs by the end of the 1970's.  The initial market for traction batteries would almost certainly have led to substantial improvements in both capacity and lifespan.  The problem with lead-acid isn't the chemistry, it's factors like grid corrosion and sulfation.  These can be substantially avoided with different materials, and now that the market exists we're starting to see them.  A pity that it took 40 years too long to get started on it!


Weight and cost are the most important factors for EVs/HEVs. If you focus battery development on one of the heaviest metals, there must be something fundamentally wrong with the idea already at the starting point. In addition, lead is poisonous and not particularly cheap. I cannot understand why some at this forum are so excited about this development. Making a competitive EV based on lead-acid batteries during any of the three periods when EVs has attached attention, i.e. in the 70’s, the 90’s or today, was and is not possible.


Good observations Peter... Graphene and derivatives will make future batteries much smaller and much lighter. Too bad that applications take so long.


Refusing to abandon lead, despite its relatively high theoretical energy/mass and high density (making for a compact cell if the inactive mass/bulk can be minimized), is just good sense.  We already have a large industry to mine it and it is very highly recycled, so we might as well keep using it where it fits.


E-P, the theoretical figure of 550 Wh/kg for lead acid which you provide is a bit too high, it seems more like 120-170 Wh/kg depending on the source (and voltage and concentration of acid, up to 218 Wh/kg mentioned for 100% concentrated sulfuric acid and voltage 2.6V).


Ah, you're right.  I grabbed the wrong number off a page; the PbSO4 limit is about 0.6 MJ/kg or about 170 Wh/kg.

That would still be very attractive if it came in a compact package at a low price.


"Had US pollution and fuel economy regulations been written more intelligently, we would have likely had HEVs and PHEVs by the end of the 1970's."

What possible reason is there to believe this.


If I recall correctly, the objective of the “Muskie law” or, in other words, of Muskie himself, was that the new emission legislation would effectively ban the internal combustion engine in cars. Maybe it appeared realistic at a time when gas turbines, steam engines, stirling engines and electric drive to some extent was under development. The outcome was, as we know, totally different. The gasoline engine was the winner simply because it was much better than the competition when all the pros and cons were considered (the theory of conspiracy always tells you a different story but I will not go into that now…). For a very brief period in the USA, the diesel engine was also participating in the race.

HEVs and PHEVs were not really considered in the 1970’s. Not that I can recall, anyway. Of course, you could always find some examples but nothing really serious. If any of you have other evidence, please let us know. It would be interesting if the history would be re-written.

What possible reason is there to believe this.
Because one of the major headaches of carbureted engines is throttle transients which cause fuel mixture excursions and surges of emissions, and even lead-acid cells increased the fuel economy of the Prius (one early plug-in Prius conversion used lead-acid electric bicycle batteries).  If policies had been written to encourage the use of batteries as energy buffers we could have both cleaned up the air and cut fuel consumption.

What we needed was a fuel tax that doubled the pump price of gasoline.  What we got was CAFE regulations.  This was a policy failure.

Bob Wallace

Doubling pump price would be political suicide. Raising the price at the pump even a penny or two via taxes would cause great outrage.

Every time oil prices rise there is an outcry to cut fuel taxes.

What we need is a nice big jump in battery capacity. Give us 200 mile EVs and production will increase. That will bring prices down. Adequate range at an acceptable initial purchase price and we'll move away from petroleum.

What we're seeing right now in the ICE business is about like the livery stables making their rigs as nice as possible in hopes of keeping people driving horses as the Model Ts roll off the line.


Oddly enough, European fuel taxes hike their pump prices to more than double US levels, yet there is only major dissatisfaction when "trigger" levels (e.g. 1£/liter) are reached during economic troubles.

Bob Wallace

Europe put their high fuel taxes in place a long time ago.

Europe was manufacturing tiny (by US standards) cars in the 1950s.

Anyone know the history? Did this get started after WWII as a way to limit the use of oil?


Are you saying that if the EPA had outlawed enrichment circuits and accelerator pumps, we would have likely had HEVs and PHEVs by the end of the 1970s?

Also odd, is that Europe DID increase fuel tax and more than double the pump price of gasoline.

But that was not enough to create EVs in Europe, nor even make Europe the EV leader.


Europe had been notoriously lax about emissions, too (esp. diesel emissions).  There's also the European tendency to try to tax everything; if the tax man decides to force "equality" on the EV user, the incentive disappears.

Bob Wallace

It's unlikely that Europeans will tax EVs heavily.

Europe isn't plagued with climate change deniers, they understand what is at stake and are working to get their GHGs emissions lowered.


Think not?  Britain decided to tax drivers who used waste cooking oil as a substitute for diesel fuel.

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