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Lux: Panasonic has 39% share of plug-in vehicle batteries, thanks to its deal with Tesla

Panasonic jumps to top of the plug-in vehicle battery leaderboard, overtaking NEC and LG Chem. Source: Lux Research. Click to enlarge.

Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to the Automotive Battery Tracker from Lux Research. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.

Lux Research analysts used historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker.

Even at relatively low volumes—less than 1% of all cars sold—plug-in vehicles are driving remarkable energy storage revenues for a few developers, like Panasonic and NEC, that struck the right automotive partnerships. To understand this opportunity, we combined a comprehensive data set of vehicle sales with detailed battery specifications for each car and supplier relationships, yielding a flexible tool that uncovers unexpected insights into this fast-changing market.

—Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of Automotive Battery Tracker

Among the Lux findings:

  • The electric vehicle drivetrain is the most lucrative for battery developers. Hybrids move the most cars—the Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in Japan and California—but their small battery packs mean they require less energy storage in total than full electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf. Hybrids demanded 481 MWh of batteries in Q1 2014, while electric vehicles called for 774 MWh. Nonetheless, in terms of demand by OEM, hybrid leader Toyota (28%) edges EV providers Tesla Motors (24%) and Renault-Nissan (21%).

  • Regulations and consumer preference drive significant regional differences. China has the highest ratio in the world of plug-in vehicles to hybrids, but its average EV battery packs are less than half the size of those sold in the US. Adoption of hybrids also varies widely: Japanese consumers bought more than three times as many hybrids as U.S. drivers did, despite Japan being a much smaller automotive market overall.

  • Lithium-ion extends its lead, but NiMH sticks around. Lithium-ion batteries captured 68% of the 1.4 GWh of batteries used in plug-ins and hybrids in Q1 2014, with nickel metal hydride (NiMH) technology trailing at 28%—but kept aloft by Toyota’s loyalty to the lower-cost technology for its top-selling Prius. Next-generation solid-state batteries continue to make only a small dent, with less than 1% of the market.

The Automotive Battery Tracker is produced by the Lux Research Energy Storage Intelligence team.



It is surprising to note that NiMH batteries are still in heavy use by Toyota.

Toyota is very slow to switch to higher performance Lithium batteries. A Prius III with equivalent weight Lithium battery pack could probably do 60+ mpg instead of current 50 mpg and do better than most diesels?

As Aha

Harvey Toyoda do use lithium in plugin Prius, maybe NiMH handles power better than lithium...


NiMH work at the 1 kWh level, they are cost effective and durable.
As some like to say "if it is not broken, don't fix it".


Much to do with patent protection on larger capacity NiMH?

A Toyota Prius III-E with a 3+ kWh quick charge Lithium battery pack could recovery more braking energy and run more on e-energy to get 60+ mpg?

Tesla or Panasonic could produce the slim battery pack to fit under the front and back seats?

Roger Pham

Lithium batteries are much better than NiMh, especially Lithium Polymer (Lipo). Folks in the Radio Control (R/C) hobby can attest to that. No one in R/C world now use NiMh for his plane, car or boat.

I think that the reason that NiMh was used for so long in the Prius was that significant investments and safety testing were done on the NiMh that those costs must be recouped before moving onto Lithium that still has propensity for fire to be worked out or dealt with, while NiMh has no fire risk.


A gas-electric hybrid requires a small-capacity battery (1-2 kWh) that can be charged and discharged rapidly (duration of a typical accelerate-brake cycle)... a high POWER battery.

A pure-electric vehicle requires a large capacity battery (dozens of kWh) that discharges slowly (runs for many hours), and (except for Quick Charge) likewise can take some hours to recharge... a high ENERGY battery.

The demands of the two applications are in fact quite distinct in terms of battery performance. Outside of a laboratory, or the dream world, there is no one battery that is "best" that can perform cost-effectively in both of these applications.

Horses for courses, at least at this stage of battery evolution. NiMH for high-power applications and Li-Ion for high-energy applications.

Roger Pham

Certain Lithium batteries have very high power and durability, much more so than NiMh. For R/C use, there are Lipo that are capable of 60C discharge and 5-8C charging. 5C charging means from 0 to full charge in 12 minutes!

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