China’s lithium battery industry has a history of over two decades. Around 2010, China completed the localization of cathode materials, anode materials, electrolytes, copper coil, separators and other core raw materials for lithium batteries. Some end products has also been basically localized. China is not only the biggest consumer of lithium-ion batteries in the world but also has the most concentrated industrial chain and largest production volume of lithium-ion batteries.
The global market of lithium battery cathode materials presents a landscape of tripartite China-South Korea-Japan competition. By market size, Chinese enterprises of lithium battery cathode materials take up the largest market share, according to CRI.
However, Japan and Europe have the most advanced technologies, followed by South Korea and China. With large-scale production, China is narrowing the gap with advanced countries in cathode material technologies.
The industrial chain of lithium batteries mainly covers lithium raw materials, cathode materials, anode materials, electrolytes, separators and production equipment. Cathode materials accounts for a large proportion of the mass of lithium batteries. (The proportion of cathode materials to anode materials is 3:1 to 4:1.) In addition, cathode materials account for 25% to 30% of the costs of lithium battery production.
In 2017, the sales volume of new energy vehicles in major countries totaled 1.42 million units. And the production volume and sales volume of new energy vehicles in China reached 794,000 units and 777,000 units respectively, registering YOY growth of 53.60% and 53.30% respectively. The installed capacity of power batteries in China was about 33.55GWh. According to the annual reports of the lithium battery enterprises surveyed, some enterprises keep a large stock of power batteries.
In 2017, there were significant increases in the prices of lithium and cobalt, the key raw materials of lithium-ion batteries, which brought tremendous pressure to battery manufacturers. To reduce the production costs of power batteries to 1 CNY/Wh by 2020, many enterprises invest in key battery resources and other upstream industries.