A new report sponsored by ABB Robotics and authored by the automotive intelligence unit of Ultima Media auggests that concerns over EV battery supply to meet the escalation in demand poses serious risk to the growth of market share of electric vehicles, despite plans for 80 new global battery gigafactories.
The report notes that 2036 is the crossover year when all-electric passenger vehicles are predicted to overtake sales of ICE-equipped equivalents.
While we forecast global EV sales to grow by a remarkable 21% CAGR over the next decade, the increase in battery production and capacity will be even higher. That is because the kilowatt hour (KWh) battery capacity required per vehicle is likely to rise as well. We estimate the average vehicle battery capacity will increase by 3% per year over the next decade as battery prices fall, allowing OEMs to fit larger capacity batteries to improve driving range. Thus far, fully electric variants have also tended to be of the smaller to mid-size models in an OEMs range, which were easier to electrify to meet emissions targets. But OEMs will increasingly be compelled to electrify most if not all of their fleets. The increase in the e-SUV globally and electric pickup truck segment in North America, for example, will likely increase battery sizes and thus battery demand.
Demand for other home, consumer and energy storage products will also increase the need for gigawatt hour capacity.
Battery production will thus need to increase faster than EV sales volumes would suggest. Furthermore, battery capacity needs to exceed demand significantly because the theoretical maximum capacity of battery plants is rarely achieved as a result of technical and logistical issues. For example, there may be a slowdown due to a shortage of cobalt, cathodes or quality control issues, which could mean that not all cells produced will be viable. A rule of thumb is that a realistic production output is around 70% of the stated maximum capacity.
We forecast that while battery demand will rise from 330 GWh in 2020 to 2,180 GWh in 2030, battery production capacity will rise in the same period from 450 GWh to more than 2,857 GWh.—“Electric Vehicle Battery Supply Chain Analysis”
Source: “Electric Vehicle Battery Supply Chain Analysis”
The report outlines that although Asia leads electric vehicle battery production, Europe will make up vital ground over the next few years while US manufacturers are also planning increases in capacity.
The report’s researchers point to the importance of battery pack assembly being located close to or within car assembly facilities.
Co-locating battery pack assembly not only boosts sustainability by reducing transportation, it increases flexibility. A cellular approach to production is easily integrated alongside existing lines. If the demand curve moves, cells can be added or removed quickly to maintain accurate production scale. Our robots are designed to be quickly repurposed as needed, boosting flexibility and adding to our sustainable approach by maximizing the life of each robot we build.
We believe that building a robust battery supply chain will create a distinct competitive advantage for OEMs, setting a trend towards maximum production flexibility, whether battery pack production is insourced or outsourced, to further reduce costs and boost productivity.—Tanja Vainio, Managing Director of ABB Robotics Auto Tier 1 Business Line
The high price of EVs will increasingly create a barrier to further market penetration; reducing vehicle cost has therefore become a whole-industry focus. Given that the battery represents up to a third of vehicle costs, ABB is focused on solutions that improve battery manufacturing productivity.
Increasingly we see that higher productivity and lower costs are driven by assembling battery cells straight into packs. ABB is working in partnership with a number of manufacturers, using its systems and knowledge to increase productivity, quality and safety levels, as well as reduce finished pack costs through automated assembly—vital if EVs are to meet their required cost and adoption targets.
Automation is key to increasing assembly safety, quality and traceability and delivering battery technologies cost effectively, which is critical to the expansion of electric vehicles. With production speed and flexibility essential to the successful scale-up of the EV battery industry, our cellular production architecture enables manufacturers to quickly validate a cell design and then roll out production cells globally with uniform quality, safety and productivity standards. Roll-outs can be scaled to demand with the flexibility to adjust capacity in real time.—Tanja Vainio