Tesla helps Panasonic become plug-in vehicle battery leader

May 07, 2014 // By Paul Buckley
Panasonic has emerged as the leader for batteries powering hybrid and plug-in vehicles by capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market which has more than tripled during the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter.

Market intelligence analyst Lux Research’s Automotive Battery Tracker estimates that the market for batteries for plug-in and hybrid vehivles reached a $660 million in Q1 2014.

Panasonic's leadership position was helped by the company's partnership with Tesla enabling the Japanese battery maker to overtake NEC's 27% market share and LG Chem's 9% stake in 2013.

"Even at relatively low volumes - less than 1% of all cars sold - plug-in vehicles are driving remarkable energy storage revenues for a few developers, like Panasonic and NEC, that struck the right automotive partnerships," explained Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the new Lux Research Automotive Battery Tracker. "To understand this opportunity, we combined a comprehensive data set of vehicle sales with detailed battery specifications for each car and supplier relationships, yielding a flexible tool that uncovers unexpected insights into this fast-changing market."

Lux Research analysts used historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker. The findings include:

The electric vehicle drivetrain is the most lucrative for battery developers. Hybrids move the most cars - the Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in Japan and California - but their small battery packs mean they require less energy storage in total than full electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf. Hybrids demanded 481 MWh of batteries in Q1 2014, while electric vehicles called for 774 MWh. In terms of demand by OEM, hybrid leader Toyota (28%) edges EV providers Tesla Motors (24%) and Renault-Nissan (21%).

Regulations and consumer preference drive significant regional differences. China has the highest ratio in the world of plug-in vehicles to hybrids, but its average EV battery packs are less than half the size of those sold in the U.S. Adoption of hybrids also varies widely: Japanese consumers bought more than three times as many hybrids as U.S. drivers did, despite Japan being a much