Driven by plunging prices and accelerating demand from the electric and hybrid automobile market, lithium-ion will emerge as the world’s leading rechargeable battery technology and achieve 350 percent revenue growth from 2010 to 2020, according to a new IHS iSuppli.
The global lithium-ion battery revenue is expected to expand to $53.7 billion in 2020, up from $11.8 billion in 2010, as presented in the figure above. Revenue will rise to $31.4 billion in 2015, allowing lithium-ion to surpass the current dominant rechargeable battery technology, lead acid.
While lithium-ion will find wide usage in mobile electronics products such as cellphones and notebook PCs, usage in cars will fuel the bulk of sales growth.
“Lithium-ion at present is much more expensive than alternative technologies, costing two to three times as much as sodium-sulfur, lead-acid and nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable batteries,” said Satoru Oyama, principal analyst of Japan electronics research for IHS. “However, lithium-ion pricing will decline much more rapidly than the other technologies, coming close to cost parity in 2015, and then becoming the least expensive type of rechargeable battery in 2020. Combined with the inherent advantages of the technology, the increasingly competitive cost of lithium-ion will cause car makers to employ it as their battery technology of choice in future electric and hybrid vehicles.”
One concern regarding the use of first-generation lithium-ion batteries in cars is safety. There can be a risk of fire using existing lithium-ion battery materials due to the high temperatures involved. There have been documented incidents of lithium-ion battery fires in smaller devices, such as PCs and mobile phones. All these must be resolved before this product can go prime time in some new applications.