In recent years, the development trend of global electric vehicles has become common practice. Not only has China formulated a development strategy based on pure electric drive, but Germany has also fully supported the development of electric vehicles. Tesla is already a well-known electric car manufacturer. Under the successful call of Tesla, a new car-making force has emerged in China.
Throughout the world's well-known automobile companies, there are not a few who take electric vehicles as the focus of development. Even Toyota, which has absolute advantages in hybrid technology, has increased its research and development of electric vehicles. After years of unremitting efforts, the global electric vehicle industry has been surging.
Driven by the sharp increase in the production and sales of electric vehicles, power batteries ushered in strong demand. In the global competition of power batteries, China, Japan and South Korea are in a relatively leading position. Although the birth of the battery has a history of hundreds of years, only in recent years has the rapid development of power batteries been called a new thing. There are still many uncertain factors in power batteries, which lead to differences in the development strategies and technical routes of battery companies in China, Japan and South Korea. Everyone is bravely moving towards their stated goals, and competition is becoming fierce.
High specific energy is consensus
The power battery targets set by China are roughly the same as those of Japanese and South Korean companies, and both are pursuing high specific energy batteries. The higher the energy density, the longer the driving range, and everyone agrees.
The "Energy Conservation and New Energy Vehicle Technology Roadmap" drawn up by China draws a blueprint for the development of power battery technology. In 2020, the specific energy of pure electric vehicle power battery cells will reach 350Wh / kg, 2025 to 400Wh / kg, and 2030. 500Wh / kg.
The ternary battery cell energy density of China's leading battery company Ningde era reaches 240Wh / kg. In 2019, the NCM811 battery with a single cell energy density of more than 280kWh / kg will be launched. It is planned to increase the cell energy density to 300Wh by 2020 / kg.
At present, the energy density of Samsung SDI 3rd-generation power batteries is 550Wh / L, and mass production has been achieved. According to Samsung SDI's plan, the energy density of the 3.5th generation power battery expected to reach mass production in 2019 can reach 630Wh / L. At the same time, Samsung SDI is also accelerating the research and development of 4th and 5th generation batteries. The energy density can reach 700Wh / L (equivalent to 270-280Wh / kg) and 800Wh / L (equivalent to 300 Wh / kg). It is expected that Mass production will be made from 2021 to 2022 and after 2023, respectively.
In 2018, LG Chem realized small-scale production of NCM811 batteries. In 2020, LG Chem will launch the third-generation power battery. The target energy density of single cells is 270-280Wh / kg, which is 50% higher than the current energy density of mass production. .
At present, the energy density of the 18650 battery cells produced by Panasonic's NCA material is up to 250Wh / kg, and the energy density of the 21700 cylindrical battery cells used by Tesla Model 3 is 340Wh / kg, which is the highest energy density battery in the market.
On the way to improve energy density, various companies have invariably set their sights on the ternary system. NCM or NCA has become a magic weapon to increase energy density, from 523 to 622. Now 811 has been mass-produced, and high nickelization has become a consensus. At the Power Battery Forum, some experts said that some foreign companies intend to further improve energy density without cobalt.
In general, despite everyone's consensus on high specific energy, the high and low energy competition has temporarily separated the high and low. Panasonic is ahead of other companies with its high energy density of 21700 batteries. Samsung SDI lags behind other competitors and is at the bottom. .
Power batteries are not a specification or type. Square, cylindrical, and soft cases are used by different companies. This difference comes from the different strategies of enterprises. No one type of battery is better than its competitors.
LG Chem and SKI focus on soft-pack batteries. Soft pack batteries have better safety. When a soft pack battery has a safety problem, it will generally burst open and will not explode. The soft pack battery is lighter and is 10% -20% lighter than an aluminum lithium battery with the same capacity. Soft pack battery has small internal resistance, good cycle performance, and flexible design. It can be customized according to customer needs to develop new cell models. Soft-pack batteries also have their own shortcomings, poor consistency, high cost, prone to leakage, and high technical threshold.
The flagship products of Samsung SDI and CATL are square batteries. The rectangular hard case battery can produce large-capacity single cells. The hard case protects the battery cells better than the soft pack battery. The safety of the battery cells has also been greatly improved compared to the cylindrical battery. The group efficiency of the rectangular battery reaches 88%, which is higher than the group efficiency of the soft pack and cylindrical battery. There are many types of square batteries, and it is difficult to unify the process, which is a disadvantage that is difficult to overcome.
Unlike most other companies that use the NCM ternary system, Panasonic batteries use the NCA system and mainly produce cylindrical batteries. The production process of cylindrical batteries is mature, and the yield rate is high. Unified specifications such as 18650 and 21700 show a cost advantage as a whole. The NCA cathode material is easy to produce gas during charging and discharging, and has poor safety. It needs to be equipped with a very good thermal management system. In addition, the integration of modules and PACK is difficult, and the energy density utilization rate is low.
Batteries are just the basic unit and need to be grouped to achieve their effectiveness. There are large differences in the group efficiency of various types of batteries. LG Chem and SKI's soft pack battery has a higher energy density than square cells, but has a lower group efficiency. At present, the energy density conversion rate is about 80%.
Samsung SDI and CATL mainly promote the efficiency of the group of square cells, the cell-to-module energy density conversion efficiency can be as high as 90%. Panasonic supplies batteries for Tesla. Different models use different batteries, and the group efficiency is also different.
Tesla Model 3 has two specifications modules, the energy density conversion efficiency is as high as 84%. The Model X (90kWh version) energy integration efficiency is 60.41%; the Model 3 energy integration efficiency is 64.2%. Overall, the square group battery has the highest group efficiency, and the cylindrical battery has the lowest.
Cycle life is an important indicator of power batteries. At present, the cycle life of LG Chem can reach 2,000 cycles, the cycle life of Samsung SDI's power battery can reach 1500 times, and the cycle life of Panasonic's 18650 cells is about 500-1000 times. CATL's 523 system power battery cell cycle life can reach 1800 times, which is close to the life index of Korean companies. Overall, the cycle life of Chinese and South Korean batteries is on a level, and the cycle life of Panasonic batteries is significantly lower.
Compete for vehicle matching
The competition of power batteries tends to be fiercer than the competition for supporting users. At present, the leading global battery companies have basically divided the supporting layout.
The core customer of Panasonic Power Battery is Tesla. With the continuous increase of Tesla sales, the production and sales of Panasonic batteries also continue to increase. Panasonic's customer list also includes Volkswagen, GM, Nissan, etc. In the global user layout, Panasonic has 6 Japanese customers, 4 European customers, and 2 American customers. Panasonic has established battery production plants in the United States and Dalian, China, to provide users with supporting services nearby.
LG Chem has reached a strategic partnership with Hyundai Kia. Its core customers include GM, Renault, Hyundai Kia, Volvo, CT & T, etc. The main supporting models are Chevrolet Bolt, Volt, Renault Zoe. LG Chem's production plants are located in Wucang, South Korea, Nanjing, China, Michigan, and Poland.
The plant in South Korea meets the needs of Korean companies and is responsible for regulating orders in the global market. The plant in China aims at China ’s huge demand for batteries. The plant in the United States mainly supplies American car companies GM and Ford. Poland is the first LG Chem in Europe. A large power battery production base.
Samsung SDI has more partners and has become a core battery supplier for more than 30 electric models. Samsung SDI and BMW have formed a strategic partner, and its core customers also include Volkswagen, Ma Hengda, Lucid Motors, etc. Samsung SDI has deployed automotive power battery factories in South Korea, China, the United States, Hungary, and Austria, targeting the most economically developed or dynamic regions.
In the competition for supporting enterprises, the Ningde Times took a long list. At last year's Guangzhou Auto Show, more than 40 vehicles from 23 auto brands were equipped with Ningde era batteries. In recent years, the Ningde Times has accelerated the pace of market development, signed strategic cooperation agreements with SAIC, Dongfeng, FAW, etc., and the top domestic automobile companies basically cooperate with the Ningde Times. The core customers of the Ningde era are not limited to China. BMW and Volkswagen also extended an olive branch to the Ningde era.
High or low profitability
After the race, the power battery company will eventually make a profit. The profitability reflects the company's production management level and has a certain impact on future development.
On February 4, Panasonic released the third quarter of fiscal 2019 (Japanese fiscal year starts from April 1 each year to March 31 the following year). The first three quarters benefited from the rapid growth of the power battery business, and Panasonic achieved revenue of 6.08 trillion Yen, a year-on-year increase of 2.9%. Revenue from the energy business unit where secondary batteries are located was 522.3 billion yen, a year-on-year increase of 26.4%. Panasonic estimates that the revenue of the energy business for the entire fiscal year will reach 715 billion yen, a year-on-year increase of 27.1%. The operating profit of the energy business is expected to reach 20.1 billion yen, an increase of 81.1% year-on-year, and the operating profit margin is about 2.8%.
In 2018, LG Chem achieved revenue of 2.818 billion won, a year-on-year increase of 9.67%, mainly from the energy business, the chemical and basic materials business. In addition to the substantial increase in profit from the energy business, the profitability of other main businesses decreased. The operating profit of the chemical and basic materials business, which contributed 95% of the company's profit, decreased by 24.1%, and the operating profit fell by 4.3% year-on-year.
In 2018, LG Chem achieved a net profit of 152 million won, a year-on-year decrease of 24.88%. The energy solutions belonging to the battery business achieved a revenue of 6.52 trillion won, an increase of 42.95% year-on-year, and reached 23.1% of total revenue. LG Chemical Energy Solutions business revenue is expected to reach 10 trillion won in 2019, accounting for 31%.
The energy solutions business is the highlight of LG Chemical's financial report. In 2018, the operating profit of this business reached 209 billion won, an increase of 6.2 times year-on-year.
The business of Samsung SDI mainly includes lithium battery and materials business. In 2018, Samsung SDI achieved revenue of 915 million won, an increase of 44.31% year-on-year. Of which, the lithium battery business' annual revenue was 6.95 trillion won, an increase of 60.66% year-on-year.
Differences in future technology trends
The competition of power batteries is becoming more and more fierce. In order to maintain their own advantages, companies have increased their R & D efforts towards their established goals. In the future technology development, each company's strategy is also different.
LG Chem will develop from 622 to 70% nickel, 10% cobalt and 20% manganese in the future. The future development goal is to add alumina to NCM so that the nickel content is close to 90% and the cobalt content is less than 10%, that is, NCMA batteries. LG Chemical 712 is under active development and will be mass-produced within two to three years. The NCM811 cathode material developed by LG Chem is more suitable for cylindrical batteries and will be mass-produced for electric buses.
Samsung SDI will use NCA material in the future. During the charge and discharge process of lithium ions, some residues are easily formed on the surface of NCA, which affects the service life. Samsung SDI reduces the residue and improves its service life by coating a layer of metal on the surface of NCA.
Panasonic has developed lithium batteries such as nickel-cobalt lithium manganate and lithium nickel-cobalt aluminate, and has been mass-produced for the enterprise. In order to solve the problems of low thermal stability and safety caused by nickel oxide, Panasonic has performed a nano-coating treatment on the surface of the positive electrode material, and pays special attention to improving safety through technologies such as "Panasonic Solid Solution" (PSS). The technology uses "heat-resistant layer" (HRL) technology in the new cathode.
At present, the positive electrode material of SKI soft pack batteries is mainly NCM622. It may develop into NCM811 hybrid system in 2019 and 100% NCM811 system in 2020. Ni content is expected to reach 90% after 2021. The anode material currently uses graphite, and it is expected that silicon carbon anodes will be used after 2021.
At present, the positive electrode material of the Ningde era is mainly NCM 523. At the end of 2019, it is expected to mass-produce NCM 811 system batteries. In addition to the development of high-nickel positive electrode materials, the Ningde era is also committed to the development of positive electrode materials for high-voltage platforms. It is expected that in 2020 After mass production, the energy density of the cell will be improved after mass production.
At the inaugural meeting of the Power Battery Branch of the China Automotive Power Battery Industry Innovation Alliance last year, Wu Kai, the vice president and chief scientist of Ningde Times, introduced the development ideas of Ningde Times. Around 2020, the Ningde era will use silicon carbon anode materials to increase the theoretical energy density of the anode, thereby increasing the energy density of the cell. The electrolyte is optimized to formulate and add new additives to make it better in high pressure resistance and thermal stability. The diaphragm is mainly coated with a wet method diaphragm.
OEMs enter the field of power batteries
For many years, in addition to BYD's battery production, global auto companies rely on China, Japan, and South Korea's battery companies for supporting supply. This situation will be broken.
On October 11, 2017, the European Union held a meeting in Brussels to discuss the issue of battery production at the EU level. The creation of a business alliance will be one of the important contents of the meeting. Earlier, EU Energy Agency spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said that the European Commission regarded European battery production as a strategic goal and that large companies must make rapid decisions on battery investment. European companies must collaborate in the supply chain while increasing consumer awareness and acceptance of electric vehicles.
The European Union's initiative has been supported by the German government, and German car companies have responded positively. Volkswagen will build a new battery plant in Salzgitter, Germany, and invest 10 billion euros (about RMB 78.44 billion). From the perspective of investment scale and number of supporting vehicles, Volkswagen's new battery plant capacity may be Tex Pull the super battery factory twice. Mercedes-Benz intends to invest about 500 million euros (about 3.922 billion yuan) in the Kamenz region to build a new battery plant by its wholly-owned subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE.
BMW has also established a battery plant. BMW's first high-voltage battery plant project in China is located in the BMW Brilliance Shenyang engine plant. According to the previously announced ⎝⎛多人牛牛⎞⎠, this high-voltage battery center will provide high-voltage battery accessories for the new generation of BMW 530Le iPerformance, which can produce 33,000 high-voltage battery packs per year.
As a pioneer of electric vehicles, Tesla originally supplied batteries from Panasonic, and now Tesla has also built a Gigafactory. Gigafactory is Tesla's first superbattery factory. It was started in June 2014 and will have a capacity of 35GWh when it is put into production in 2018. The exact name of this factory is Gigafactory 1, which indicates that Tesla will build a second superbattery in the future. Battery factory. According to data, Tesla will expand battery capacity to 150 GWh when necessary.
As one of the core components of new energy vehicles, power batteries are actively investing in research and development. The original battery companies are intertwined with new entrants. The market competition is becoming fierce. The reshuffle of domestic battery companies is inevitable. .