LG Chem and Johnson Controls currently lead the lithium ion (li-ion) batteries for electric vehicles market in terms of both strategy and execution, according to a leaderboard report by Navigant Research.
Only three companies — LG Chem, Johnson Controls and AESC — are ranked as “leaders” in the report’s leaderboard grid (see graphic). Steady but gradual growth in EV sales has limited opportunities for makers of advanced batteries, including li-ion batteries, Navigant Research says. Several companies have either entered bankruptcy or shut down, leaving a few firms struggling to remain solvent until the EV market creates a growing worldwide demand for electric drivetrains.
The top 10 vendors, according to the report, are:
- LG Chem
- Johnson Controls
- Samsung SDI
- SK Continental E-Motion
- GS Yuasa
South Korea-based LG Chem surprised many in the automotive field by winning the Chevrolet Volt contract in 2008, and has since followed through with several other major automotive contracts.
Deciding not to invest in building factories to serve a market that has not fully appeared yet, Johnson Controls has focused its strategy on developing the second generation of batteries, the report says. Its NMC battery chemistry, which will be officially launched late in 2013 or early in 2014, is highly regarded by many potential buyers and could win some of the world’s biggest automotive contracts.
AESC, the joint venture between Nissan Motor Company and NEC, is the only manufacturer of Li-ion cells that is directly owned by an automotive manufacturer, and the company has produced significant volumes of batteries, primarily for the Nissan Leaf.
Navigant Research expects the industry to produce 49 GWh of battery capacity for vehicles in 2020, a more than tenfold increase over 2013 production numbers.
Last month, Bosch, Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa said they would work together to develop li-ion batteries. The companies plan to use advanced cell management and progress in electrochemistry and materials to significantly increase energy content. This will reduce weight and space requirements, and increase the range of electric vehicles.