EV growth set to get out of first gear this decade and drive battery metals demand forward
The adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is poised to grow rapidly with several major automakers due to launch ‘mass-market’ models this year.
Already, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has moved forward the UK ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 to 2035 while Norway, the current leader in EV adoption, is looking to stop the sales of fossil fuelled vehicles by 2025.
Other European countries are also looking at similar phase-outs.
Consultancy Wood Mackenzie believes that the 2020s will be the decade of BEV growth with global market share expected to grow from 3 per cent in 2019 to 14 per cent by the end of the decade in its base case scenario.
Meanwhile, hybrid vehicle market share could climb from 4 per cent to 9 per cent, while the penetration of conventional gasoline internal combustion vehicles is expected to fall from 79 per cent to 66 per cent.
“This will have a ripple effect on many other industries,” Woodmac principal analyst Ram Chandrasekaran said.
“According to our projections, demand for global petroleum products will fall by 1 million barrels a day from the impact of BEV growth alone.”
Automotive batteries are expected to form the bulk of global battery metals demand, while the need for charging infrastructure could create new industries for installing and maintaining charging stations.
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Chandrasekaran also noted that the coming decade would see the focus for battery development shift from cost and range to energy density and charging capacity.
“With one of the most advanced battery packs in the automotive industry, the Tesla Model 3 pack has an energy density of 160Wh/kg [watt-hours per kilogram],” he said.
“The 75kWh [kilowatt-hour] pack weighs approximately 480kg, representing about a quarter of the vehicle’s weight.
“An increase in energy density reduces the weight of the battery and thus the vehicle. This reduces the total pack size needed to achieve the target range, in turn reducing the weight of the battery further.”
Woodmac expects the energy density of lithium-ion batteries to rise by 25 per cent to 35 per cent over the next decade, though this does not account for next-generation technologies, such as solid state and lithium-sulphur batteries.
Increasing vehicle efficiency along with the expected reduction in battery costs is likely to reduce BEV prices.
Charging capacity is also on the cusp of similar changes.
Chandrasekaran says that while current 50kW fast chargers can provide about 40 miles of range in 10 minutes, it does not solve the problem of taking longer trips, as it would take between 30 to 40 minutes of charging to store enough energy for a 200 mile trip.
“An effective charge rate of 300kW can provide 200 miles of range in 10 minutes for an average car. A strong network of chargers with this capacity along major highways would mitigate fears of not being able to take a long trip,” said Chandrasekaran.
Woodmac noted that a combination of higher energy density batteries and a network of high-capacity fast chargers could propel BEV adoption from 14 per cent to 30 to 40 per cent.
Another fledgling technology that could boost BEV adoption is dynamic electric vehicle charging (DEVC), which can charge a car that is moving at highway speeds.
“This technology is a game changer,” Chandrasekaran explained.
“It will encourage manufacturers to make – and customers to buy – vehicles with much smaller battery packs. This will trigger a snowballing effect on cost, weight and range.
“In fact, a breakthrough in DEVC technology has the potential to propel BEV market penetration to 70-80 per cent. However, there is a long way to go before the technology can be considered commercially viable and scalable.”
He added that to achieve a high market penetration, BEVs had to appeal to masses by being cheap, reliable and convenient to charge.