Battery shipments for Japan e-cars to escalate in next 4 years

Japan automotive “traction” battery shipments are forecast to increase at a 27.9-percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from an estimated 1,654 MWh in 2011 to 5,661 MWh in 2016, according to new research from IDC.

Automotive traction battery is a rechargeable battery used for driving electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles (HVs) or plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs).

The shipment capacity of the Japan automotive traction battery market in the second half of 2011 (2H11) reached 1,002 MWh, a 71.1-percent increase from the same period in 2010 while automaker spending reached $785 million in 2H11, a 97.6-percent increase from the same period one year earlier.

In terms of battery type, nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery shipments increased 10.4 percent to 594 MWh, while lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery increased 766.3 percent to 408 MWh.

Demand for Ni-MH batteries, which have been supporting the growth of automotive traction battery market, increased moderately despite the fact that hybrid vehicle (HV) production decreased due to the supply-chain disruption caused by the Thailand flood crisis; while the rapid recovery from production cutback forced by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake was realized.

In contrast, Li-ion batteries, which are mainly used for the electric vehicle (EV) segment, increased significantly along with EV demands and greatly contributed to the overall expansion of the Japan automotive traction battery market in 2H11.

EVs reached market formation stage in 2011 and experienced only relatively minor impacts from those natural disasters.

In terms of vendor share, Primearth EV Energy captured the number 1 position with approximately 50 percent market share in megawatt hour in 2H11, followed by Automotive Energy Supply and Panasonic (including Sanyo).

According to IDC’s most recent forecast, Japan’s automotive traction battery market will make a complete recovery in 1H12 from the disasters and grow by 127.3 percent to 1,482 MWh in shipment capacity and 139.9 percent to $1,174 million in automaker spending.

The Ni-MH battery market will increase by 82.5 percent from the previous period to 763 MWh while Li-ion battery market will increase by 207.3 percent to 719 MWh.

Automakers are planning to launch (or have already launched) new EVs, HVs, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) in 2012 and Li-ion battery used for those vehicles will drive the entire market in 2012.

As a result, shipments of Li-ion batteries will surpass Ni-MH batteries in the Japan automotive traction battery market in megawatt hour for the first time.

Prices of Li-ion batteries will be a growth-inhibiting factor by value in the long run but overall Japan automotive traction battery market will increase to 5,661 MWh with a 27.9 percent CAGR in shipment capacity or $4,079 million with a 26.2 percent CAGR in user (automaker) spending, from 2011 to 2016.

“Most of the automotive traction battery vendors in Japan have been sticking to domestic production due to concerns about the outflow of battery technologies. However, planned overseas (outside Japan) production of EV, HV, and PHV and severe price competition with foreign battery vendors will force them to shift their production overseas. The business judgement from a long-term perspective is required for Japan battery vendors,” said Kazuhiko Ishimori, group manager for energy at IDC Japan.

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