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EV battery manufacturing processes include robots.

Battery Supply? It’s China, and Everyone Else

Globally, China leads in battery production by a wide margin, dominating levels produced in the U.S., Europe and East Asia combined.

Of the many themes raised at the recent International Battery Seminar in Orlando, FL, the development of supply chains in North America will be a key to meeting future electric-vehicle targets.

Andrew Miller, chief operating officer of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, predicts the North American industry will need $50 billion to develop raw materials and $20 billion for midstream processes by 2030.

Earlier, Benchmark identified $580 billion in investments needed to build a global lithium battery industry by the end of the decade, including $130 billion in battery materials, namely anodes, cathodes, electrolytes and separators. 

“It is important to recognize that the energy transition to battery-powered cars will be the result of multiple transitions in everything from your legacy oil and gas industries through to renewables and emerging types of energy technologies like fusion and fission,” Miller (pictured, below left) says.

Andrew Miller, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.jpg“As for battery materials, we are going to need each of these industries – nickel, lithium, cobalt and other critical materials –  to scale anywhere from three times to 10 times their current size. These supply chains have put raw materials at the center of industrial competitiveness,” he says.

Globally, Benchmark reports battery production in 2023 approached 1.1 TWh, with the lion’s share, 904.5 GWh, in China. Other major markets illustrating China’s dominance: 52.9 GWh in the U.S., 44.6 GWh in Europe (Poland, Hungary and Germany) and 49.8 GWh in East Asia (South Korea and Japan).

“So, what are we doing to keep the likes of GM and Ford competitive in a market where they are fundamentally behind a lot of their Chinese competitors, and their regional and national supply chains (needed) to meet their EV ambitions have been put at the heart of geopolitics?” Miller asks.

“We are seeing more demand for these critical materials as they emerge regionally in North America. The issue a lot of automotive brands faced a few years ago was, if you were talking about developing a new raw-material supply base, your customer wasn’t here. Your anode customer and cathode customer weren’t here.”

Miller adds that since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, “The pipeline of battery capacity here in North America has grown almost 80%. So just in a year and a half, we’re seeing that type of growth.”

To this end, he further notes the largest portion of battery cost comes from raw materials. “Raw materials are really what is driving the economics of a li-ion battery,” adding, “If you think about the fact that the single largest cost component in producing electric vehicles is the battery and the largest cost component in the battery is overwhelmingly the cell, there is no escaping the fact that access to raw materials will determine the success or failure of the North American electric-vehicle market.

Miller further warns the “false comfort” of low material prices, which are expected by the end of the decade, “heighten the prospects of supply chain disruption in the years ahead.”

Meanwhile, Viktor Irie, co-founder and sales director of EV-Volumes, a global EV sales database, predicts global EV battery demand, both for battery-electrics and plug-in hybrid-electrics, will grow to 2.5 TWh by 2028, up from 718 GWh in 2023. In fourth-quarter 2023, China’s CATL, the world’s No.1 battery supplier, delivered 80 GWh, double that of second-ranked LG Energy Solution at 40 GWh.

Irie further reports average capacity per vehicle, which totaled 62.5 kWh in 2023, is moving toward 65 kWh.


Looking at the vehicle market, the Swedish research firm predicts global EV sales will grow to a record 17.8 million units in 2024, up from last year’s record of 14.2 million. Seventy percent of 2023 sales were BEVs, and 59%, 8.4 million units, were in China.

The European and North American markets grew to 3.4 million and 1.6 million units, respectively. They are projected to grow to 3.9 million and 2.5 million units in 2024.

By 2030, 45% of cars sold in China will have a “plug,” that is, will be either a BEV or PHEV, according to Irie.

An executive at North Carolina-based Albemarle Corp. predicts global EV sales will grow to 48.8 million units in 2030.

Meanwhile, a Department of Energy spokesman reports the U.S. industry is still on track to realizing its 2030 pack cost target of $75/kWh. The agency’s U.S. battery sales target is projected to reach 1 TWh in 2030. That is for light-duty vehicles and compares to 3.4 TWh in China, 1.4 TWh in Europe and 69 GWh in South Korea and Japan.

London-based Argus Battery Materials Analytics predicts LMO and LFP batteries will grow to 2.1 TWh in 2033, up from 199 GWh in 2022, and account for 63% of demand. 

Shoichiro Watanabe, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Panasonic Energy and recipient of the 2024 Shep Wolsky Battery Innovation Award, says Panasonic plans to increase global production capacity to 200 GWh in 2030, from 50 GWh in 2022. Of the 50 GWh total, 40 GWh would be in the U.S. and 10 GWh in Japan.

Meanwhile, Panasonic will introduce 4680 li-ion batteries by June, according to Watanabe. The cylindrical battery reportedly has five times greater energy capacity than 2170 types. Tesla is expected to use the battery for its next-generation cars.

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