Lithium Battery Industry: Three Problems and Two Demands

The global demand for lithium batteries is increasing with the continuous expansion of application fields. At present, China is the largest lithium battery producer after Japan. The production of lithium batteries in China is still in its infancy. Because the State encourages the development of lithium-ion battery production, many battery factories and some powerful enterprise groups in China see the potential market of lithium batteries and do not hesitate to invest a lot of money in this industry; However, its technical level and equipment level are relatively backward and can not be based in the international market. The enterprise still focuses on domestic sales. Facing the price war in the traditional 18650 market, the uncertain future of the power battery market and the shrinking market of traditional digital products, the current situation of the lithium battery industry is worrying. Where is the road?

Market status

1. 18650 market (price blocked, market chaos)

In 2011, with the large energy consumption of intelligent digital terminals, the demand for mobile power supply gave birth to, driving the growth of cylindrical 18650 batteries. However, after two years of development, the mobile power market has been mixed, with fake and low-end products flooding the market, and the market is disordered and chaotic.

The world's 18650 well-known brands include Panasonic, Sony, Samsung [microblog], LG, etc. Therefore, most domestic manufacturers can only choose to take the middle and low-end or cottage product route to control costs and occupy the market at price. The price of Samsung 18650 is expected to drop to US $1 in the fourth quarter of this year. If so, the price will be lower than that of some Chinese mid-range 18650 manufacturers, which will make it worse for domestic manufacturers.

From the first half of the year, the average price of lithium battery cells in China decreased significantly, and the price of cells in the middle and low-end market decreased even more. The low-end market price is chaotic, and there has been a soft pack cell with 1Ah less than 4 yuan. With the intensification of market competition and lower and lower gross profit, it is bound to blow up the tide of enterprise bankruptcy and face the situation of reshuffle of the industry.

2. Iron lithium power battery market "overcapacity, uncertain future"

According to the statistics of lithium battery industry Research Institute of Gaogong, there were 105 power lithium battery enterprises in China at the end of 2012, compared with about 10 in 2008. As of May this year, the overall production capacity of power lithium battery industry has reached 4 billion ampere hours. It is believed that most enterprises were attracted into this field by the concept of new energy vehicles around 2008. Although the state strongly encourages the development of the electric vehicle industry, its complete power system technology is not mature. The scale of the electric vehicle market in recent years is still just over 10000, while the power battery enterprises expand too fast, the supply exceeds the demand and the production capacity is idle. Most manufacturers rely on it "Sideline" is making a living, which is gradually far away from the original "dream of electric vehicle power battery".

In addition, battery enterprises also bear the risk of return and payment collection. As we all know, the power system of electric vehicles is composed of BMS controller and motor controller in addition to the battery. Whenever there are quality problems, the focus of attention and responsibility are basically placed on the battery. Therefore, enterprises fall into many problems such as return and deduction of warranty deposit, which makes battery enterprises miserable. For example, in 2011 The electric bus project for the Universiade, which Shenzhen watmar cooperates with Wuzhoulong, should also be tangled over the payment for goods.

Coda and Fisker, who used the lithium iron phosphate battery of A123 company in the United States, fell one after another this year, while Tesla chose Panasonic's 18650 battery scheme, but the sales in the North American market broke the record again in the second quarter of 2013. In this case, we have to ponder "is it a mistake to choose the lithium iron phosphate battery route when just developing the power lithium battery to prepare for" overtaking in the corner " ? which technical route to choose is another dilemma we are facing. At present, the author still believes that although the specific energy of iron lithium battery is low, it is still the best choice for electric vehicle battery.

3. Energy storage market "the market is huge, but it is still far away from us"

At present, China's energy storage market is still in its infancy, and the technology is also in the stage of demonstration projects. The real industrialization still faces many challenges. Electrochemical energy storage includes liquid flow batteries, lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries, sodium sulfur batteries, nickel cadmium batteries and supercapacitors. In practical application, lead-acid batteries still account for the main part. Although at the end of 2010, China Mobile [microblog] Group Co., Ltd Southern province company started the centralized procurement of lithium iron phosphate batteries, which is also the first centralized bidding for this product by China Mobile, indicating that lithium iron phosphate batteries have opened the energy storage market. If all the existing ordinary lead-acid batteries of China Mobile are replaced with lithium iron phosphate batteries, the market scale will be as high as 800 billion yuan. However, it is still in the demonstration stage, and it is still a long way to enter the industrialization market The prospect can be said to be "although winter has arrived, it is still far from spring".

In addition, the high price has always hindered the large-scale application of lithium iron phosphate battery. Now, facing the further upgrading of other battery technologies, the original performance advantages of lithium iron phosphate battery are gradually losing. It is reported that Nandu power supply (6.850, 0.05, 0.74%) At present, the cycle life of the lead-carbon battery produced for energy storage projects can reach 2000 times. The price of the lead-carbon battery used in the energy storage market is about 1.5 yuan / wh. Whether the data is prepared or not, it gives us an alarm. How to reduce the cost and improve the cost performance is our primary task at present.

Market direction

1. Electronic cigarette market (huge market, high technical threshold)

Although e-cigarette has been on the market since 2004, it is still in its infancy. Goldman Sachs published "eight areas that may change the world" at the equity investment forum held in August this year , Goldman Sachs believes that e-cigarettes have the potential to change the current situation of the existing tobacco market and accelerate the decline of traditional cigarette sales. According to incomplete statistics, the sales volume of e-cigarettes in 2012 was about 120 million, accounting for about 0.1% of the whole cigarette market. Assuming that the global demand for e-cigarettes was 300 million in 2013, then In December 2010, the U.S. federal court ordered FDA to stop implementing the provisions prohibiting the import of e-cigarettes from China. The U.S. e-cigarette market ushered in great development, and the demonstration effect stimulated the global e-cigarette market. In 2013, there was an opportunity to double the demand in the e-cigarette market, with strong order demand.

At present, there are only a few large-scale e-cigarette battery enterprises, so enterprises can seize this opportunity to enter the e-cigarette market, but their battery quality requirements are relatively strict, and the battery needs high current discharge. (for example, 75300 is a common type of e-cigarette, with a nominal capacity of 90mah, while the instantaneous current is generally 1.5A when smoking e-cigarette, and the 75300 battery is equivalent to a discharge current of 16 times). High current discharge is undoubtedly the biggest test of e-cigarette battery. If the manufacturer can solve this problem, it is believed that it can occupy a place in the e-cigarette market.

2. Digital market (traditional market shrinking, tablet market growing)

On August 27, Liu Yanlong, Secretary General of China Chemical (7.15, - 0.06, - 0.83%) and physical power industry association, made a speech at the "fourth lithium battery cathode material market seminar" According to the above statement, it is expected that the global square battery will be reduced from 39% in 2012 to 25.8% in 2016, and the cylindrical battery will be reduced from 36.4% in 2012 to 22.9% in 2016, which means that the global market share of square battery and cylindrical battery will shrink by 30% by 2016.

Recently, foreign media reported that according to the news released by IDC, a research company, the sales of tablet computers will soon exceed the sales of personal computers. Based on the annual sales, IDC believes that the sales of tablet computers will exceed the sales of personal computers by 2015. Obviously, with the rapid growth of tablet computer market, the personal computer market has experienced a process from stagnation to negative growth. With tablet computers With the continuous enlargement of product size, the battery capacity has also increased. On the one hand, it needs more power to support the consumption of larger screen. On the other hand, because the tablet computer is positioned to meet the mobile and portable entertainment needs of consumers, the battery design focuses on the ultra-thin and high-capacity product design, so the battery products applied to tablet computers should have Higher technical level.

From the above two aspects, the space for obtaining the market and survival still lies in the improvement of technology and the guarantee of quality. Blindly copying the mountain route can only make us closer and closer to the end, and blindly increasing capital and expanding production can only drown ourselves in the ocean of batteries!

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