The battery-electric-vehicle race continues to heat up. In 2022, the auto industry saw not only a significant uptick in BEV sales but also an increased focus from OEMs on bringing costs down.
The need to make BEVs more affordable is obvious: The majority of car buyers cannot afford today’s models, which are priced higher than most internal-combustion-engine vehicles. Fortunately, the U.S. has seen recent regulatory changes, although the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) can provide tax credits
As OEMs continue striving to deliver a more affordable BEV, all eyes are on the battery, and on the processes and technology that will deliver lower cost, longer range and better-performing vehicles. Hard data on performance and costs, rather than hype, will be at the center of OEMs’ decision-making.
We can expect to see segmentation of the technology market, as volume automakers look to scale production to millions of BEVs annually and improve their supply chains, while luxury manufacturers pursue costlier niche solutions with lower volume production.
That’s why 2023 will be the year of the battery, and we will see more automakers turn their attention to composition as the solution to a more affordable BEV. The use of silicon will play an instrumental role in “supercharging” the battery. In fact, from 2023 through 2025, there will be an increase in silicon penetration in the anodes of batteries (including lithium-ion) in new BEVs – with a significant increase in silicon-based anodes in batteries in coming years.
We can expect to see automakers prioritize some of the major themes of 2022 – investments in technology, partnerships and joint development agreements – all leading to a better battery.
Some of the battery-related issues to look out for this year include:
- Charging/range anxiety: This is still a major pain point for consumer adoption. In 2023, charging speed and range will become topics that no longer relate only to drivers’ concerns, but also shift the way OEMs invest. We will see more investments in charging networks (longer range and faster charging mean greater numbers of BEVs served by a given charging network density) and penetration of particular market segments. These segments include drivers without a charging station at home, residents of small apartment buildings in cities, and drivers in rural areas. Public/private partnerships will need to drive the cost of electricity down and develop bi-directional power management (car to grid and grid to car) to increase buffering of renewable energy sources.
- Supply Chain: Supply chain issues still plagued the automotive industry in 2022. Localized supply chain solutions will emerge to minimize disruptions of global supply chains. Over the next year, we can expect to see many South Korean, Japanese and European suppliers increase their investments in the U.S. to take advantage of the IRA incentives.
- Investing in Tech: Recently, automakers have been overhauling leadership to bring in more tech talent. We will continue to see this trend in 2023; however, OEMs not only will fight hard for tech talent but also retrain existing workforces to rethink the automobile through a tech-centric lens. Other big areas of investment over the next year will include securing cell supply in each region, securing upstream materials with less dependency on China and a smaller carbon footprint, and securing intellectual property to support the technology roadmap to the end of the decade and after.
- Cost: Right now, consumers are considering purchasing a BEV amid high gas prices but are anxious about the rising cost of the vehicle type and the lack of charging infrastructure. And while battery prices are said to be rising, these costs will come down as OEMs evolve their supply chains. Bottom line, BEVs still are too expensive for mass adoption. However, over the next year, we will see average BEV prices come down as affordability and borrowing costs will become bigger issues. The less-expensive models will gain market share.
This is going to be an incredibly exciting year for the auto industry, one we hope will solidify a leader in the race to the affordable BEV. Silicon will be the answer, and the OEM that can outfit the anode with the most amount of silicon will be the one to watch.
Vincent Pluvinage (pictured, left) is CEO of OneD Battery Sciences