Thanks to its partnership with Tesla Motors, Panasonic now possesses 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market — crushing its closest rivals, NEC at 27% market share and LG Chem at 9%.
The market as whole is continuing to grow relatively rapidly — having more than tripled over the past three years. It currently rests at about 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to Lux Research.
As stated before, much of Panasonic’s great success over the past few years has been, unsurprisingly, down to its partnership with Tesla Motors. The company has done quite well thanks to its deals with the EV pioneer. As it stands currently, Panasonic is set to supply Tesla with more than 2 billion automotive-grade lithium-ion battery cells over the course of four years.
“Even at relatively low volumes – less than 1% of all cars sold – plug-in vehicles are driving remarkable energy storage revenues for a few developers, like Panasonic and NEC, that struck the right automotive partnerships,” explained Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the new Lux Research Automotive Battery Tracker.
“To understand this opportunity, we combined a comprehensive data set of vehicle sales with detailed battery specifications for each car and supplier relationships, yielding a flexible tool that uncovers unexpected insights into this fast-changing market,” he continued.
Some of the other interesting findings from Lux Research’s Automotive Battery Tracker are detailed below:
The electric vehicle drivetrain is the most lucrative for battery developers. Hybrids move the most cars – the Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in Japan and California – but their small battery packs mean they require less energy storage in total than full electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf. Hybrids demanded 481 MWh of batteries in Q1 2014, while electric vehicles called for 774 MWh. Nonetheless, in terms of demand by OEM, hybrid leader Toyota (28%) edges EV providers Tesla Motors (24%) and Renault-Nissan (21%).
Lithium-ion extends its lead, but NiMH sticks around. Lithium-ion batteries captured 68% of the 1.4 GWh of batteries used in plug-ins and hybrids in Q1 2014, with nickel metal hydride (NiMH) technology trailing at 28% – but kept aloft by Toyota’s loyalty to the lower-cost technology for its top-selling Prius. Next-generation solid-state batteries continue to make only a small dent, with less than 1% of the market.
A couple of final notes, despite the seemingly solid nature of the relationship between Panasonic and Tesla — and the fact that the relationship seems to be quite lucrative for both — there are some grumblings of disagreement.
In particular, there has been some talk that Panasonic is hesitant to join Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory project because of potential investment risks. And this is according to the company’s CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga, so it’s not exactly from down low.
My guess would certainly be that the partnership remains strong — despite current grumblings — but Panasonic’s great reliance upon the Tesla deals suggests that the company is very likely looking to expand elsewhere and reduce said dependance.
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