The electric vehicle business is over $33 billion today at ex factory prices but cars are less than half of that. As the market nearly quintuples over the next ten years, cars will rise to nearly 55% of the business but the devil is in the detail. Last year, Mitsubishi expected to make its electric car business profitable by 2013 but then Nissan warned that governments may cut back subsidies for electric cars due to the ongoing global financial meltdown and profits may slip far into the future. Certainly, most of the profits in electric vehicles will remain beyond mainstream electric cars for the next ten years. In 2020, the car manufacturers will still be slogging it out to see which three end up with secure, profitable growing electric car businesses of tens of billions of dollars in the decade after that, when growth eases. Fiat Group, owning leaders in industrial and agricultural vehicles and Ferrari and progressing the purchase of Chrysler, will be a part of that.
Many profitable electric vehicle manufacturers
By contrast, today there are already many profitable electric vehicle manufacturers with other strategies, including Linde in electric forklifts, Kongsberg in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles AUVs, Jinangsu Xinri Electric Vehicle Company in e-bikes, Pride Mobility in electric mobility vehicles for the disabled and Tesla in designer sports cars. Little wonder that more and more of them are expanding into several other, carefully chosen multi billion dollar EV sectors.
Profitable traction batteries
Much the same picture pertains with traction batteries, the largest single driver of cost and performance of most of these vehicles. Here there is even more horizontal selling but the savvy players choose their targets carefully. For example, Electrovaya of Canada recently showed its first profit of $549,000. A manufacturer of battery operated healthcare products, its entry into traction batteries has been in specialist vehicles such as the Hummer military vehicle, the Dodge Ram pickup truck and the Canadian Maya low speed car, Tata and Hero. Its batteries are the safer lithium polymer type.
The new IDTechEx report "Vehicle Traction Batteries 2010-2020" looks at all traction batteries and the winning strategies. The rapidly growing market for traction batteries will exceed $55 billion in only ten years. However, that spans battery sets up to $500,000 each with great sophistication needed for military, marine and solar aircraft use. Huge numbers of low cost batteries are being used for e-bikes but even here several new technologies are appearing. The largest traction battery replacement market is for e-bikes today and the value market for replacement batteries will not be dominated by cars when their batteries last the life of the car - something likely to happen within ten years. The trends are therefore complex and that is why IDTechEx has analysed them with great care.
Vehicle manufacturers are often employing new battery technology first in their forklifts or e-bikes, not cars, yet there is huge progress with car batteries as well - indeed oversupply is probable in this sector at some stage. The mix is changing too. The second largest volume of electric vehicles being made in 2010 is mobility aids for the disabled but in ten years time it will be hybrid cars. The market for car traction batteries will be larger than the others but there will only be room for six or so winners in car batteries and other suppliers and users will need to dominate their niches to achieve enduring growth and profits. Strategy must be decided now.
In this report, researched in 2010 and frequently updated, IDTechEx analyses the successes, the needs, the statistics and the market potential for traction batteries for all the major applications. This has never been done before. It is important to look at the whole picture because traction battery manufacturers typically sell horizontally across many applications and electric vehicle manufacturers increasingly make versions for many applications - heavy industrial, on road, leisure and so on - so one customer needs a great variety of batteries. The smarter putative suppliers will choose the sectors that best leverage their strengths rather than join the herd and be obliterated by battery making corporations of up to $100 billion in size enjoying prodigious government support. Include in that the large car manufacturers controlling or part owning their battery suppliers. This is far from being an open market for the sixty or more traction battery suppliers and putative suppliers.
This comprehensive report has detailed assessments and forecasts for all the sectors using and likely to use traction batteries. There are chapters on heavy industrial, light industrial/commercial, mobility for the disabled, two wheel and allied, pure electric cars, hybrid cars, golf cars, military, marine and other with profiles of a large number of players and listings of over 200 of their customers. The profusion of pictures, diagrams and tables pulls the subject together to give an independent view of the future ten years. Unit sales, unit prices and total market value are forecasted for each sector for 2010-2020. The replacement market is quantified and ten year traction battery technology trends by sector are in there too. There is a view on winning and losing technologies and companies. This is the essential reference book for those who are anywhere in the hybrid and pure electric vehicle value chain. Those making materials, cells, battery sets or vehicles, researchers, legislators and market analysts will find it invaluable. One hour of consultancy is provided with the report.
The very different future for electric vehicles
This year, IDTechEx has produced four reports, respectively covering all electric vehicles, all traction batteries and specifically hybrid and pure electric cars and car traction batteries in more detail. We shall end the year with a conference looking at The Future of Electric Vehicles, uniquely covering the near and long term opportunities in all forms of electric vehicle and their components, including market analysis and winning long term strategies. Many potentially disruptive technologies such as new forms of military, aircraft, earthmover and marine EV, lithium air batteries, supercabatteries, and radically different road transport will be discussed. Energy harvesting from shock absorbers and transparent photovoltaics over the whole vehicle, printed, molded electrics and electronics and laminar batteries - all the radical advances will be covered. It will take place in San Jose 7-8 December, so there can be visits to the more exciting companies in the field. There will be an exhibition and optional masterclasses before and after the event. See www.IDTechEx.com/evUSA for details of this conference as its agenda evolves. This portal also provides free daily analysis of the total electric vehicle scene.