Three Out Of The Five Largest Plug-in Manufacturers Report Battery Constraints

DEC 30 2013 BY MARK KANE 10

2013 Nissan LEAF Battery Pack.

2013 Nissan LEAF Battery Pack.

Outlander PHEV Battery Pack

Outlander PHEV Battery Pack

The latest story on Mitsubishi’s battery shortages forces us to reflect on what is really happening in the plug-in industry right now.

Three out of the five largest electric and plug-in hybrids manufacturers are now reporting battery constraints.

A few years ago, we had numerous announcements on new EV lithium-ion battery plants. Then there was some time of lower than expected EV sales and a wave of battery manufacturer bankruptcies and abandonment of plans. Now, when sales are taking off, it seems that some players don’t have an ample supply of batteries for vehicles they’re trying to make

Tesla stated that EV production at 600 units per week is constrained by Panasonic’s inability to produce enough batteries for more Model S sedans. Nissan, in the U.S., is fighting with some kind of material shortages to produce more batteries for the LEAF. Just over the 2,000-unit per month level is probably all the LEAFs that can be made (maybe that will finally be boosted by 50% this month or in January).

Ok. Let’s look to the numbers

Tesla Model S battery pack

Tesla Model S battery pack

Tesla produces about 600 cars a week and around 30,000 a year now. Model S has 60 or 85 kWh packs but we don’t know the mix. Let’s assume 75 kWh per car. The total is 2,250,000 kWh. With a small number of packs sent to other companies, let’s round it to 2,500,000 kWh (or 2.5 GWh) a year from Panasonic. It could grow in the middle of 2014 if Tesla tries to increase production again.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn At Nissan/AESC Battery Production Facility

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn At Nissan/AESC Battery Production Facility

Nissan is selling not more then 5,000 LEAFs a month globally, so at 24 kWh packs, it is safe to set the bar at 1,440,000 kWh (or 1.44 GWh) year worldwide. But this is from three different battery plants (Japan, UK and US) and doesn’t include batteries for Renault (Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Z.E.). Two Renault models all together will be at about 7,000 units in 2013 (6,000 for Kangoo Z.E. if December goes well). 7,000 times 22 kWh is just 154,000 kWh and 1.6 GWh worldwide. We also don’t have any data that indicates that Nissan has supply problems in Japan or in Europe.

In the U.S. for Nissan, limit constraints (before this month) are at about 2,000 units a month, which means 576,000 kWh. And should be increased by at least 50% to maybe 900,000 kWh. If this will be utilized, Nissan will be at about 2 GWh annual level.

Mitsubishi says “We can make only 30,000 plug-in vehicles this year.” (probably by the end of March 2014 to go with Japan’s fiscal year). So, without too much digressions, we can assume 30,000 times 12 kWh for Outlander PHEV. This is just 360,000 kWh, but maybe it’s too much for Lithium Energy Japan (Mitsubishi JV with GS Yuasa)?  A few thousand i-MiEVs are produced a year (we are not sure if they are included in 30,000 number) with 16 kWh (but not all have the 16 kWh from Lithium Energy Japan) represents rather no more than 100,000 kWh.

By April of next year, Mitsubishi expects to double the production and will be at 60,000 units a year and 720,000 kWh (or 0.72 GWh).  Its need will be below 1 GWh.

Interesting is that Tesla Motors is now a larger consumer of GWh than Nissan (plus part of Renault) and Mitsubishi (plus some PSA Peugeot Citroen).

The second interesting point is that Japan rules in terms of lithium-ion battery production for electric cars. LG Chem from South Korea is probably the only one (as supplier for GM, Ford and Renault) outside of Japan who counts in the race of GWh.

Categories: Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Tesla


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10 Comments on "Three Out Of The Five Largest Plug-in Manufacturers Report Battery Constraints"

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Don’t forget the Zoe sales in the Renault equitation

Zoe batteries are also supplied (via sub contract) by LG Chem, so there is no shortage for that vehicle.

Are there any really good Chinese cell makers?

So much for the prediction of an oversupply of batteries for the next several years because of all the battery manufacturers ramping up production…

Yes, what happened to the battery manufacturing plants that were built under the recovery act? I thought those were all failing? Enerdel? JCI? Dow-Kokam? Saft? LG Chem? I think the news was that these were all failing because of lack of demand. It seems someones story doesn’t agree. Did we just hate those companies because the Gubmint was involved, or are they just so bad that even with undersupply they can’t get a customer?

All these cars coming on line that are devouring Gaga watts of power sound like they are eating up several power plants worth of power now. This could be a good thing for the power companies in the age of growing solar power in that a car will devour more power then several major appliances in a house. It might be that all this new solar power coming on line in California could be going to the fast growing EV market which is holding down the need to build new coal fired plants.

If you look at Tesla a 85 kilowatt pack can at least devour enough power to fill up three Nissan Leafs and six Mitsubishi i-MEV’s. It would be interesting to see what happens to a small town’s power grid if say several thousand Teslas got together for a major Tesla convention.

Can anyone advise which battery makers are publicly traded? There has to be a stock play here somewhere.

Panasonic (Tesla’s supplier) is on both NASDAQ and TYO.

GS Yuasa (Mitsubishi supplier) is on TYO.

NEC and NEC TOKIN (joint venture with Nissan called the AESC: Automotive Energy Supply Corp; AESC is however a private company) are on TYO.

LG Chem (which supplies cells to Ford, GM, Renault, as mentioned above) is on KRX.

Samsung SDI (supplier for BMW, VW, and rumored to be in talks with Tesla) is on KRX.

IMO the whole industry is battery supply constrained, smart’s 9 month back log, the lack of volt’s on the sales lots, bmw selling out before even going on sale in the us, the pip pretty much selling out by the end of the year, constant delays to the rollout of new models, etc.

Makes a bit of a mockery of the whole ev s are a failure thing, worth keeping in mind how massive ev growth is. I read on the internet that global sales of batteries are ariund 25 to 30 GWh’s per year so even at modest ev adoption ev’s take a big chunk of global production.

Does anyone know the inside story on Envia? It’s hard to believe that they are 100% kaput. Maybe GM wants to take the project under ground, to get the jump on Tesla. Elon, are you listening???