The Future of Electric Vehicle Batteries: Lithium Ion & China

By Justin Moresco in Earth2Tech, February 15 2010

As the automotive industry transitions to electric vehicles, companies developing lithium-ion battery technology will be in the driver’s seat – and they’ll be carrying Chinese driver’s licenses. Li-ion technology is quickly replacing nickel-metal hydride batteries in hybrid electric vehicles, and the advanced battery market for emerging plug-in hybrid vehicles will be worth billions of dollars within a decade, according to a new report by market research firm GBI Research. But while Japanese manufacturers currently control a majority of the global advanced battery market, South Korean and especially Chinese firms are nipping at their heels.

If you own a hybrid-electric vehicle today, chances are it has nickel-metal hydride battery technology. These batteries today account for 97 percent of the hybrid electric vehicle market, by revenue. But the nickel-metal hydride technology has reached its maturity, according to GBI researchers, and Li-ion technology is advancing more quickly and offers better overall performance characteristics, such as longer life, high energy density, and is more light weight. The report estimates that hybrid electric vehicles will make up 10 percent of new sales by 2020 and that Li-ion batteries will be in more than 60 percent of those cars and trucks.

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