Bloomberg News: Lead-Battery Demand for cars to increase 2.6% on China, India

Source: Johnson Controls

It is great to see that battery demand is on the up. Yet the YoY growth rate, as reported by Bloomberg below, appears relatively modest. Lithium-ion battery supply is only modestly raising. We have yet to hear a statement from EV manufacturers how they deal with input prices. Passing those costs on to the consumer and/ or fleet operators may slow down the S-curve of pick-up demand.

For now, we continue to favour Johnson Controls as a play on the sector as the firms overall revenue stream is well diversified.

Bloomberg News
Lead-Battery Demand for Cars to Increase 2.6% on China, India

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) — Global demand for lead-acid batteries may rise 2.6 percent this year amid increased car sales in China, India and Southeast Asia, said an executive at GS Yuasa Corp., the world’s third-biggest producer.

Demand for car batteries will rise to 390 million units from 380 million in 2010, Hiroharu Nakano, general manager at the Kyoto, Japan-based company, said in an interview yesterday. GS Yuasa forecast demand will climb to 400 million units in 2012.

Johnson Controls Inc. and Exide Technologies, both based in the U.S., are the biggest producers. GS Yuasa has a 7 percent share in the automotive battery market and has partnerships with Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. to make lithium-ion power cells for electric and hybrid cars.

“Demand from China, India and Southeast Asian nations has been leading global growth and this will continue for the time being,” Nakano said in Tokyo. Battery demand for new vehicles has increased in those countries, while worldwide replacement demand has risen moderately, he said.

In 2010, actual demand was expected to exceed the company’s forecast of 380 million units by about 5 million units following higher-than-expected car sales in China and other emerging markets, he said.

China’s vehicle sales will grow 10 percent to 15 percent this year after jumping 32 percent to 18.06 million vehicles in 2010, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers forecast.

China Demand

Demand in China will increase 9 percent to 49 million units in 2011 and then 54 million units in 2012, while consumption in India may climb to 14.5 million units in 2011 and then 16 million in 2012 from 13 million last year, Nakano said.

Lead for immediate delivery was unchanged at $2,500 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange at 1 p.m. in Tokyo. The price has gained 16 percent in the past year, touching $2,712.75 on Jan. 6, the highest level since May 2008.

Demand for lithium-ion batteries will jump to 3.8 million cells in 2015 from 1 million cells in 2012, he said.

Nakano said the lead-acid battery market will not be affected by growing demand for lithium-ion cells. Battery demand for new idling-stop systems, which consume more lead, has also been increasing, he said.

GS Yuasa plans to produce 30 million units this year, up from 28 million units last year, and 32 million in 2012, Nakano said. The company produces about 70 percent of these overseas.

The company plans to increase its share in China to 11 percent or 6 million units in 2012 from 9 percent or 3.8 million units in 2009. It also expects to raise its share in Southeast Asia to 45 percent or 9.4 million units from 43 percent or 7.5 million units in 2009, and 10 percent or 1.6 million in India from 5 percent or 0.6 million.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jae Hur in Tokyo at jhur1 Ichiro Suzuki in Tokyo at isuzuki

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4

Climate Equity Selection and Climate Opportunity

HSBC released a recent report on their Climate Equity Opportunity list (pdf), or short ‘CEO’-list. The list comprises 88 companies that derive 20% plus from their low carbon energy, energy efficiency and storage, or water and waste.

HSBC sees the fastest growth for Renewable Energy in Emerging Markets and proposes that Energy Efficiency makes up the largest opportunity, about 53%. Overall, HSBC estimates that the total market size could be around $2.2trn. Sizing the Climate Opportunity accompanies HSBC’s Climate Equity Opportunity research piece.

HSBC’s report ‘includes five key segments: transport efficiency (USD677bn, CAGR 18%), building efficiency (USD245bn, CAGR 10%), industrial efficiency (USD183bn, CAGR 6%), energy storage (including fuel cells) (USD66bn, CAGR 15%) and smart grid (USD23bn, CAGR 8%)’.

However one sector stands out. HSBC suggests that the electric vehicle market will grow more than 20x by 2020 to reach USD473bn. This based on the assumption that the grow will be back-loaded, i.e. the growth will be faster in the second half of the decade as input prices fall and the industry starts to see scale. Importantly, the report estimates that battery costs will come down from about USD1000/kWh to about USD350/kWh. Underlying the assumptions are global electric vehicles (EV) sales of 8.65m units and sales of 9.23m plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The average prices for PHEV gasoline and diesel vehicles in 2020 will be 5-10% lower than average EV prices (USD27,500).

Source: HSBC, September 2010

Saft Groupe makes an interesting appearance in the HSBC report. According to the analysis, 75% of Saft’s sales comes from markets where it ranks sector leader. More importantly, sales are diversified across other industries including the military. We mentioned Saft Groupe back in February 2010 when we advocated that the automotive industry will change forever. But not without an improvement in the Energy Storage sector. We connected our argument to the Lithium-Ion market. Overall, we continue to rank Saft Groupe as a very interesting play on the interconnection between EVs and Energy Storage. However, HSBC prefers Energy Efficiency over Energy Storage. We cannot agree more, in the near-term anyway.

Surprise development between Tesla and Toyota

Two forces we follow closely on the blog have decided to join teams, while another partner looks on from the sidelines. No, we are not referring to Elon Musk’s wife and girlfriend, where ongoing divorce proceedings may or may not affect a Tesla IPO, but instead a partnership between Tesla and Toyota, with Daimler playing the role of existing and current partner. The deal is the single, largest clue for investors as to the future of both firms.

Courtesy Gov. Schwarzenegger's Office

Yesterday, May 20, Governor Schwarzenegger helped announce the partnership between Toyota and Tesla where the large Asian OEM is expected to invest $50MM in exchange for an undisclosed ownership percent of Tesla. Tesla will also buy a closed Toyota plant in Fremont, CA to manufacture its upcoming Model S. The partnership also extends to engineering, parts, production systems and of course, cars. Daimler AG, on the other hand, invested $50MM in May 2009 in exchange for 10% of the company and a partnership that includes the sale of battery packs. Later, in July 2009, Daimler sold half of its 10% stake to its largest investor, Aabar Investments PJSC.

A Daimler spokeswoman mentioned to Business Week that they welcome the partnership with Toyota which has shared goals and that this new agreement will not impede its previously existing relationship. For information’s sake it would be interesting to know what percent of Tesla the Toyota capital purchased so we could compare valuations however that knowledge is not public at the moment.

The focus on this deal should be on both Toyota and Tesla. This may now help answer the question about Toyota’s less than assertive direction beyond hybrids that we discussed previously.  Toyota does have an electric model planned, although it looks like a toy and has a range of 50 miles. One simply need to look at the planned Tesla Model S to see what Elon Musk’s company can bring to the table. A combination of the resources and capital from Toyota with the vision and expertise of Tesla may prove to be a very potent combination. Toyota is the world’s leading seller of hybrid cars and practically created the industry.

I’ve felt an infinite possibility about Tesla’s technology,” said Akio Toyoda, chief executive officer of Toyota, founded by his grandfather. “By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business’ spirit.”  We too would like to see the large scale success of Toyota combined with the design, performance and abilities of a Tesla.

Tesla Model S, Range of 300 miles. This is why a deal was done! Courtesy Tesla Motors

Toyota needs help in the EV department, Courtesy Toyota

Tresalia Capital makes Artega Investment: Fraunhofer’s EV platform/ Electromobility concept

What do BMW, Aston Martin and Artega have in common? Its designer: Klaus Dieter Frers. He was instrumental in designing BMW’s Z8 and Aston Martin’s Vantage. The Artega GT was his latest work. Now Artega has been sold to Mrs Maria Asunción Aramburuzabala. She heads Tresalia Capital.

Tresalia Capital is probably most famous for its interest in ‘Corona’ brewer Modelo Group. Tresalia essentially acts as a family office to the estimated $2bn net worth of Mrs Aramburuzabala. The office is relatively secretive and information is difficult to come by. Nonetheless, it appears an odd addition to the stable of deals the office has made recently or are electric vehicles only a ‘lifestyle’? We would disagree if that is what Mrs Aramburuzabala and her team think.

On a more serious note, Germany’s Fraunhofer institute uses the Artega GT to test its latest research in electric hub motor technology. The Fraunhofer Institute has been granted significant resources to pursue Germany’s thought leadership in electromobility. The institute secured €14m of the Stimulus I package and a further €44m are likely. The electromobility research is overseen Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF. Recently, the Economist issued a critical piece on Germany’s research heritage. The paper cites that the nations research capabilities measured by researchers age 25-24 years is the smallest in the EU. For what it is worth, the fact that both the public and private sector appear to be working together to put resources into this paradigm shifting industry and technology may just be enough. Germany’s Mittelstand and corporates are likely to be among those firms that will drive the future of electromobility.

The electric hub engine research appears to gather momentum. Firms such as Continental, Protean Electric, Bosch, Michelin and other traditional tire manufacturers appear to make progress.

To echo the efforts made by the Fraunhofer’s Institute, the political debate surrounding Electric Vehicle’s (EV) and electromobility continues to get ever more attention not only among parliamentarians but with the general public also. The German government released a 2009-report (German Federal Government’s National Electromobility Development Plan) that set forth the neccessary investment that is needed ‘to speed up research and development in battery electric vehicles and their market preparation and introduction in Germany’.

The forecasts made by the Fraunhofer Institutes are exciting. As ever, execution will be key. We will monitor in which ways corporates engage. Thus far, Aral Petrol Company (in German) has published a study that shows that Germans are willing to pay a small premium for EV’s. That premium is between €2000-€3000. Thus the cost of new technology has to come down further or the price for fossil fuel to raise substantially before a significant change in consumer trend may be observed.

Path to Greener Flight – Part 2

If we are to consider other forms of energy storage we should also explore how it could be put to use. Developments with superconductors are laying the way for very high power to weight electric motors that could be used for aviation with the potential to be lighter than a turbofan based propulsion system, allowing the use of an energy store that does not need to be ejected to create thrust. With the potential development of room-temperature superconductors (currently at 254K or -19 degrees C), this becomes even more appealing by making refrigeration of the motors redundant (another sizeable weight saving).

The turbofan propulsion system used in a Boeing 747 is powered on jet fuel (Kerosene) with an energy density of about 45MJ/kg. Currently only being able to hypothesise on energy conversion efficiencies and weight reductions obtainable above, it would only be realistic to power an aircraft with an energy store with a comparable energy density. EEstor is a battery company claiming to have a device (a form of an ultracapacitor) capable of 1.47 MJ/kg. This claim is not without its sceptics, after all this is three times the energy density of today’s lithium-ion batteries (0.58 MJ/kg). While well suited to automotive applications, this is currently far too low to be used for aviation but progress is progress. Lithium-air batteries offer hope with theoretical energy densities in excess of 5,000 Wh/kg (18 MJ/kg). While battery energy densities may not reach the required levels to allow for all-electric propulsion (or no hydrocarbon fuels), a hybrid generator powering superconductor engines could be the path of the future.

A Boeing 747 has an average power consumption of 140MW. Power delivery is as crucial as energy density for an aircraft. Numbers of this scale are normally associated with power stations. If we look far enough into the future it may be reasonable to put a power station on an aircraft, after all we do have nuclear submarines. Granted, there is no shortage of obstacles when it comes to considering a flying nuclear power station. However, there is a lot of progress being made on nuclear fusion. There is a program being funded by DARPA for naval power generation with the aim of developing a 100MW-1GW fusion reactor for ship propulsion.
IEC Fusion, if successful, would be able to provide a source of nuclear energy generation within a relatively tiny space, producing no nuclear waste and no risk of a runaway nuclear reaction via a proton-Boron fuel (PB11). Updates available on their blog. The ignition and waste products of this reaction are not radioactive, in fact far safer than current aviation fuel. On the other hand, if nuclear fusion would be able to be harnessed on a commercial aircraft I think we would have found a solution to a much larger problem. The final alternative to flight dependent energy storage is none (well, excluding reserve systems and batteries at least). Strictly speaking I am referring to remote energy generation and transmission.

The electrical genius Nikola Tesla had a vision of global wireless power at the turn of the 20th century. This has eventually led to technologies such as electromagnetic resonance and microwave transmission.Witricity is focusing on using short-range energy transmission at home, providing a means to charge devices without wires within several meters. While electromagnetic induction is well suited for domestic applications, microwave appears the only current feasible contender for wireless energy transmission to aircraft. Whilst microwave power transmission has been proved to be very efficient obstacles remain with distance (currently effective up to 1km) and public image. No one wants to be boiled from the inside out on their way to a summer retreat.

Air travel may be seen as indispensable in modern times; however there are possibilities of replacing long-haul flights with a greener alternative. Why do we fly? – To get across vast distances on earth in short periods of time. For shorter distances a dedicated maglev train with speeds reaching over 350 mph would be a possible substitute. If green air travel can be achieved, it will start with shorter distances. The real issue is transatlantic / long-haul flights. A variation of the maglev offers an alternative with an exceptional engineering challenge. The Discovery Channel recently aired an episode of Extreme Engineering called Transatlantic Tunnel which explored this option. Known as a Vactrain, it is merely a maglev train placed within a vacuum tube. The reduced drag from wind resistance and friction offers speeds in excess of 4,000 mph, shortening a trip from London to New York to around one hour. The costs of submerging a transatlantic vacuum-pumped tunnel 300m below sea level for nearly 3,500 miles are staggering (estimated at $1trillion). Of course this would require a clean energy source to be considered green. The good news is that it wouldn’t have to be airborne.

Path to Greener Flight – Part 1

The cost to own a next gen car

A recent web based calculator from our friends at Project Get Ready (led by the Rocky Mountain Institute) will calculate the cost to own a variety of vehicles for you and compare it to similar vehicles. The initiative aims to prepare cities for the deployment of plug in and full electric vehicles. A very cool function is the ability to insert your own driving assumptions, fuel prices and other important factors. EU residents will need to convert to Km and liters, and account for different tax incentives, sorry.

Click here for the calculator:

There are 48 models to choose from including hybrids, full electrics (including the not yet released Tesla Model S), and a few ICE cars. If you really want to make a point with your skeptical friends, you may need to look up yourself the full cost of owning the lesser efficient models not on the comparison list. This is one of the best, free sites around to perform your own analysis. More importantly, you can now produce a graph to demonstrate to your friends, with your own assumptions, when and how your hybrid/plug in will pay for itself.

Batteries, Lithium Ion and the Automotive Industry

MEET (Muenster Electrochemical Energy Technology), Germany is getting ready to launch a new 2000sqm research hub focusing on battery technology, most likely a significant effort will go into lithium-ion.

Prof Winter, MEET (University of Muenster, Germany)Professor Winter (recently at Graz, Austria) will chair the workgroup at MEET (homepage). Research-in-Germany.Org gives a summary of the plans and objective proposed by MEET. We note that the commitment by the regional government, the University and the private sector (including Volkswagen, Evonik and Chemetall) is impressive, on a regional scale: “The Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding the project to the amount of €5.5 million for the coming three years. Münster University is contributing €7.5 million. Further funding is coming from the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.” The private sector is financing the chair at the University with some €2.25m which is certainly impressive given the economic climate we are in.

We wrote about Evonik previously and consider it a very interesting company that may be in the position to shape the future of lithium-ion batteries. Naturally, since Volkswagen is one of the key sponsors of the centre we must assume that they have a commercial interest to link themselves with Professor Winter and his battery research team. The automotive industry is bound to change forever, no doubt. My colleagues focused on the supply side of the lithium-ion market and whether, subject to a successful scale of electric vehicles, the supply chain is secure. In his piece “The Great, Fake Lithium Supply Scare” Brett draws the conclusion that we should not worry. Although the market is too young to make credible predictions the debate is certainly worth watching. Arguably we need to better understand whether lower grade lithium-ion can be used as an input into a high-end technology process.

Autocluster, NRW (http://autocluster.nrw.de/)

Autocluster, NRW (http://autocluster.nrw.de/)

We wrote about the need to direct further money into research for energy storage and continue to see this as one of the most important research and investment themes for any serious cleantech venture investor. It is interesting that governments can play a significant role in kick-starting a debate as well as put money into the area with a targeted approach. Autocluster.NRW gives a strong, systematic approach how to create a new hub/ cluster that can concentrate core capabilities in a region. We would like to draw readers of the report to page 58ff (‘Screening of R&D project in NRW’). It highlights the efforts of various academic institutions and how their co-ordinate their efforts to maximize their combined research capabilities. The report highlighs efforts currently made by industry to drive battery technology forward. ‘According to the German government, the number of electric vehicles on the road will be 1 million by 2020’ and ‘[a]ccordingly, the resultant higher electricity needs for 1 million vehicles in 2020 must be addressed’. The authors deduct that this would require some 5 power plant blocks of 600 megawatts each (~total need about 3TWh).

To contrast the recent UK initiative of a Green Investment Bank, Autocluster’s core competence building based on a regional level sounds proactive, constructive and combines both a coordinated effort made by governments and the private sector. Can the UK mirror the effort and come up with a strategy that is as visible? Bob Wigley, good luck!