According to Lux Research, Panasonic is so far the sole market leader for lithium-ion batteries for EVs with market share of 39%.
Panasonic (which a few years ago acquired Sanyo) has several deals with manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles, but the ultimate customer is Tesla Motors.
50,000 Model S at an average of let's say 80 kWh battery packs is 4 GWh of batteries annually. No one uses more and Tesla, besides increasing car sales, entered the energy storage systems market with Panasonic cells too.
Panasonic doesn't have a guarantee that it will always be the leader and relying on just one large customer makes the Japanese company vulnerable.
Lux Research notes that LG Chem, Samsung SDI or others are willing and perhaps able to take on Panasonic's share on market, which is growing towards $30 billion by 2020.
If Tesla survives, it will be hard to take Panasonic's position in near future, although a large missing part is Nissan. If Nissan does switch to LG Chem (they already supplying Renault), then Panasonic's advantage will melt.
"...LG Chem has already signed up large automakers including General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford. In the event of a surge in sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by the German manufacturers, LG Chem would only need to win over Japan’s Nissan to topple Panasonic."
Panasonic Leads in EV Batteries With 39% Market Share, But Others Aim for Its Crown
Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Senior Analyst and lead author of the report titled said:
“The battery world’s big three – Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung SDI – are engaged in an all-out war for market share in the emerging plug-in vehicle opportunity, yet their strategies differ wildly. Watch the Throne: How LG Chem and Others Can Take Panasonic’s EV Battery Crown by 2020.”
- Plug-in market is still in its infancy. Even Tesla, the poster-child of the EV revolution, holds less than a 0.1% share of global automotive sales. However, most auto majors are quickly offering more options: The Volkswagen Group, which sold 9.6 million units worldwide in 2014, plans 20 plug-in options by 2020.
- Renault-Nissan Alliance is a wildcard. Renault-Nissan will account for 9% of this market in 2020. However, AESC, its joint venture that sources batteries from NEC, has underperformed, hobbled by high costs and lagging technology, leaving an opening for LG Chem (which already supplies Renault) to win over Nissan.
- Next-generation technology is key to leadership. New technology beyond the current Li-ion batteries is key to the lower cost and higher performance need for future leadership. Already, Samsung Ventures has invested in solid-state battery developer Seeo and in graphene-silicon anode maker XG Sciences. Similarly, Volkswagen has backed Quantumscape and GM Ventures has invested in Sakti3, Envia Systems, and SolidEnergy Systems.
Source: Lux Research