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