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<p><strong>Battery pack in early EV player Prius half of Leaf&rsquo;s, Volt&rsquo;s.</strong></p>

Battery Experts Seek Lower Costs, Better Technology

Research analyst Cosmin Laslau notes EV maker Tesla delivered 4,900 Model S sedans and Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones worldwide in first-quarter 2013. But in terms of Li-ion battery capacity, the Model S consumed 50% more than the iPhone.

TOKYO – Nearly 1,600 exhibitors showed off their latest technologies at World Smart Energy Week 2014 held in late February in Tokyo while more than 100 representatives of the biggest names in the automotive and related energy industries offered their visions of the future of electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell electric vehicles.

Industry analyst Hideo Takeshita predicts the market for lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles will grow to 1.97 million units in 2020, nearly one-third of global demand.

Takeshita, president of the market-research firm B3, predicts hybrid and EV sales will grow to 6.22 million units including 1.18 million PHEVs and 960,000 EVs.

In 2014, he estimates Li-ion battery sales for automotive applications will grow to 5.8 GWh, up from 3.5 GWh last year and 2.6 GWh in 2012. Li-ion battery demand in all applications, including mobile communications, will grow 21% this year to 46.9 GWh, according to B3.

Anissa Dehamna, a senior research analyst at Navigant Research, predicts Li-ion battery demand in the transport sector will grow to $43 billion and nearly 50 GWh in 2022, up from $3 billion and 4 GWh in 2013.

Against this backdrop, Dehamna predicts battery cost will fall to $450 per kWh in 2020 from an estimated $650/kWh at present.

Of leading hybrid and EV models, Navigant reports the battery pack for Tesla’s top-selling Model S costs $40,000, including $25,000 for cells supplied by Panasonic.

Other models cited in the consultancy's report include:

  • Nissan's all-electric Leaf: battery pack, $16,000; cells, $11,000; cell supplier, Automotive Energy Supply.
  • General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle: battery pack, $17,000; cells, $9,600; cell supplier, LG Chem.
  • Toyota’s Prius plug-in hybrid: battery pack, $8,000; cells, $3,500; cell supplier, Panasonic.

Cosmin Laslau, research analyst at Lux Research reports the “hype bubble” for EVs is over and expectations have become more reasonable. "Even though EVs and plug-in hybrids will remain niche products for the foreseeable future, they still require a large number of batteries," he says.

During first-quarter of 2013, Laslau notes, Tesla delivered only 4,900 Model S sedans while Apple’s global iPhone sales totaled 47.8 million units. But in terms of Li-ion battery capacity, the Model S consumed 50% more than the iPhone worldwide.

Elsewhere, Honda R&D chief Koichi Shinmura reports the automaker hopes to lower Li-ion battery costs to ¥20 ($0.20) per watt-hour by 2020 while raising energy density to 200 Wh/kg.

Shinmura predicts hybrid vehicle penetration will vary by market, approaching 40% in Japan and 10% in the U.S.

Honda sold 187,257 conventional hybrids in 2013, down 19% from the previous year. All but 11,818 Accord Hybrids employ 1-motor systems. In addition, the automaker sold 585 Accord PHEVs and 640 Fit EVs. Of Accord PHEV and Fit EV sales, 90% were in the U.S.

Suzuki Claims 82 mpg for eNe-Charge Mild-Hybrid Microcar

In the microhybrid segment, Suzuki reports it sold 524,000 vehicles employing its eNe-charge system through January. The technology, introduced in September 2012 on the 0.7L Wagon R, employs a high-output alternator to generate electricity from deceleration and braking.

It now is featured on 10 models including, in addition to the Wagon R, the Alto Eco, Spacia and Swift. Used in conjunction with Suzuki's start-stop technology, the Alto Eco achieves 82 mpg (2.9 L/100 km). The automaker claims eNe-charge improves fuel economy 4.2%.

Japan Out Front in Development of FCEV-Fueling Infrastructure

Kenichiro Yoshida, director-electric vehicle and advanced-technology for Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, reports 50%-70% of so-called next-generation vehicles sold in the country in 2030 will be hybrids and EVs. Conventional hybrids will account for 30%-40% of volume and PHEVs and EVs, 20%-30%.

The ministry estimates fuel-cell vehicles will grow to 3% of demand. It offers no forecast for natural-gas-powered vehicles, also included in the category.

Meanwhile, the METI-affiliated New Energy and industrial Technology Development Organization has set a series of EV and battery targets for 2020 and 2030. Among them are driving range, 155-220 miles (250-355 km) and 312 miles (502 km); battery-pack weight, 220-310 lbs. (100-141 kg) and 364 lbs. (165 kg); battery-pack capacity, 25-35 kWh and 40 kWh; battery pack cost,  ¥500,000-¥800,000 ($4,916-$7,865) and ¥400,000 ($3,932); and vehicle cost, ¥2.0-¥2.3 million ($19,660-$22,610) and  ¥1.9 million ($18,680).

Specifically with respect to batteries, METI hopes to raise battery energy and output density for PHEVs to 200 Wh/kg and 2.5 kW/kg by 2020, up from 50 Wh/kg and 2.0 kW/kg in 2012, and to 250 Wh/kg and 1.5 kW/kg for EVs, up from 100 Wh/kg and 600 W/kg.

The ministry's cost target for both battery types is ¥20,000 ($1,965)/kWh, down from ¥150,000 ($1,475)/kWh in 2012.

Note the Japanese government's green-car subsidy program currently includes maximum subsidies of  ¥780,000 ($7,675) for the Leaf, ¥750,000 ($7,380) for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, ¥450,000 ($4,428) for the Prius PHEV, ¥200,000 ($1,968) for the Nissan X-Trail clean-diesel X-Trail SUV and ¥180,000 ($1,771) for Mazda's clean diesel CX-5 CUV.

According to the ministry, maximum subsidies for EVs and PHEVs after 2013 will increase to ¥850,000 ($8,370) and ¥350,000 ($3,450) for clean diesels.

With respect to battery-charging infrastructure, the ministry plans to put 5,000 quick chargers and 2 million standard chargers in operation by 2020. An estimated 2,200 quick chargers had been installed nationwide as of December.

Chihiro Tobe, a conference keynote speaker, predicts the global market for fuel cells will reach ¥5 trillion ($49.2 billion) by 2025 of which half, ¥2.5 trillion ($24.6 billion), will be for vehicles. Of the vehicle total, ¥1 trillion ($9.8 billion) will be Japanese-built.

Tobe, director of METI's hydrogen and fuel-cell promotion office, reports Japan plans to construct 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 and 1,000 by 2025. Germany plans to install 400 stations by 2023, up from 15 today, followed by South Korea at 168 by 2020, up from 14 at present, and the U.S. at 100 by 2023, up from 10.

Daimler reports German stations will be 90 km (56 miles) apart when all 400 are up and running.

Other countries developing a hydrogen refueling infrastructure are France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the U.K., according to Tobe.

Toyota, Honda, BMW and Hyundai all plan to begin retail sales of fuel-cell vehicles in 2015 while Ford, Nissan and Daimler expect to follow two years later. In 2020, Honda and GM plan to introduce separate models with a jointly developed fuel-cell system.

Sae Hoon Kim, a senior Hyundai researcher, reports South Korea expects to have 10,000 FCEVs in operation by 2024.

In a separate presentation, Tokyo Gas reports powertrain efficiency of FCEVs stands at 30%, compared with 35% for EVs, 13% for conventional gasoline engines and 23% for gasoline-electric hybrids. EV range, however, is one-third shorter than for other vehicle types, all of which achieve more than 312 miles (500 km) between refuelings.

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