China is known as one of the largest producers of lithium-ion batteries in the world. Since the last decade, there has been a remarkable increase in the usage of lithium-ion batteries for recent applications like portable chargers, drones, power tools, wearable devices, equipment used for communication, and much more. In terms of revenue, China’s lithium-ion battery market size has increased since the year of 2012 and continues to do so.
The market experienced a quick growth due to the high demand of lithium-ion batteries because of the manufacture and sales of latest energy vehicles, such as hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles.
Why is China Dominating the Lithium-Ion Battery Production?
An analysis was made by BloombergNEF which stated the facts that since the start of 2019 there has been 316 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of worldwide capacity of lithium cell manufacturing. 73% of that capacity is in China. The U.S. is in the second place with only 12% of that global capacity.
Moreover, due to cheap labor China has a major and great advantage. This factor has allowed China to dominate several manufacturing industries. However, that is not the only case. China is home to numerous lithium reserves and has a greater production of lithium as compared to the U.S. In the year 2018, lithium production in China was around 8,000 metric tons, which is ten times more than the production of lithium in the U.S. Furthermore, in 2018 the lithium reserves in China were one million metric tons, which are about thirty times the U.S. levels.
Additionally, a trend signifies that lead-acid batteries are soon to be replaced by the lithium-ion batteries in the sector of heavy equipment and transportation. This is a vital progress in the world that is facing major carbon dioxide emissions.
How is China Cornering the Lithium-Ion Cell Recycling Market?
According to the founder of a U.K. based Circular energy storage, Hans Eric Melin, in the last year or so China has recycled an estimate of 67,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries. South Korea recycled about 18,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries, but it was for the Chinese market mostly. Globally, more than 100,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to be recycled this year. China is aiming to grab an accumulative share in order to put together materials supplies for its growing battery business. China has been manufacturing mobile phones for a decade now and that has worked in their favor as it gave them a chance to perfect the recycling of lithium-ion batteries.
Moreover, in China there has been an increase in the recycling of the lithium-ion batteries mostly due to portable electronics and high cobalt prices. Plus, China is also scaling up rapidly on the recycling spectrum of electronic vehicle batteries. In recent years, China has been responsible for selling more electric vehicles as compared to the rest of the world. Hence, it will need to lead the way as well when it comes to recycling.
How is China’s Lithium-Ion Battery Industry Powering Up for Global Competition?
The Chinese have worked hard towards capturing power and control over the manufacturing of lithium-ion and might as well be on the way to seize control of the top position of the technology side too. They went ahead and decided that in order to create a strong manufacturing sector in lithium ion; they should firstly work towards forming a strong domestic market for products that use lithium-ion batteries. This is exactly what they did, and essentially supported that market.
Furthermore, China is working endlessly towards getting the full control of the supply chain of the lithium-ion battery. The storage cells that give power to the electric vehicles play a major part in the country’s national plan to better the environment and domestically create new technologies. The job mostly emphasizes the distribution and the production. Since the demand for batteries is predicted to increase rapidly, hence so is the demand for electric vehicles. Therefore, the automakers and manufactures of storage cells want to get a hold of the raw materials that are required.
Since Chinese inventions have been growing in the recent years, so have the capabilities of the battery producers. Moreover, the growing number of patents through several sectors is just a single illustration of this rising innovation potential. Due to the control of the supply chain, companies in China will not have the same drive as the leaders of other countries in order to increase the development of newer technology. However, they will work hard towards not falling behind. Even if countries such as Japan, South Korea, or the United States try to regain significant shares of the market from China, then the Chinese will waste no time in reclaiming the primary position once again.
In China, there are currently five to seven companies that are in competition with each other when it comes to the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. These companies have almost half of the share in the overall market.
The CATL Company continues to be the ultimate leader of the market with a large share in the lithium-ion battery industry since 2017. Amperex Technology Limited (ATL) is known to have market’s second highest share. The BYD Company follows in the third place and remains as one of the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer in the country. The ranking of these companies depend upon the basis of their durability, technology, the battery packs, quality, recharge cycle, application, and after sales service.
Moreover, another market that uses lithium-ion batteries is the bigger industrial applications such as ground supports applications for airports, sweepers and scrubbers, automatic guided vehicles, and lift trucks. Since a very long time these applications have been created and manufactured with internal combustion engines and lead-acid batteries. However, as time has moved on and technology has improved greatly, the composition of the batteries have changed as well. Hence, the economics have shifted rapidly in support of lithium-ion batteries. Plus, China has been at the forefront of it all and does not show any signs of slowing down anytime soon.