South Korean Batteries Surpass Japanese Batteries for the First Time in North American Electric Vehicle Battery Markets

Nov 08, 2017

Market shares of South Korean batteries surpassed that of Japanese batteries for the first time in North American markets for electric vehicle batteries. While Panasonic, which is the number one electric vehicle battery manufacturer in the world, has depended solely on Tesla, LG Chemical and Samsung SDI have secured multiple suppliers that have helped them to gain more market shares. Although it is unclear whether or not they can continue this positive trend, it is likely that competitions between South Korean and Japanese businesses will become even more competitive.
After analyzing market shares based on sales volume of electric vehicles (BEV and PHEV) in North America in October that was calculated by a North American media called Inside EVs, which specializes in electric vehicles, market shares of South Korean batteries and Japanese batteries were 55.5% (275,263kWh) and 44.5% (220,986kWh) respectively. Global markets for electric vehicle batteries are currently led by only South Korean and Japanese businesses.
It is an eye-opening growth when market shares of South Korean batteries and Japanese batteries were 22% and 78% respectively in 2016 in North American market, which is a mini version of global electric vehicle markets. Excluding this year’s January, April, and July when market shares of South Korean batteries were 43%, 44%, and 42% respectively, market shares of South Korean batteries in rest of the months were in a range of 30%. Its market share fell to its lowest amount in September when it was 23%.
However as sales volume of Tesla’s ‘Model S’, which has maintained its number one position in sales volume in North America, dropped sharply in October, market shares of Japanese batteries also dropped as well. Sales volume of ‘Model S’ fell from 4,860 in September to 1,120 in October. Entire Tesla lineup was shaken as sales volume of ‘Model X’ also fell from 3,120 to 850 and sales volume of ‘Model 3’, which is Tesla’s economic model that was released in August, was only 145 due to a setback in production of batteries.
As Nissan’s ‘Leaf’ is also approaching its change in generation to 2nd generation, its sales volume in October was only 213 when its monthly average sales volume was around 1,200.

GM Chevrolet’s ‘Bolt’ that recorded number one in sales volume in North American market in October.  This car is equipped with LG Chemical’s 60kWh battery. <GM Chevrolet’s ‘Bolt’ that recorded number one in sales volume in North American market in October. This car is equipped with LG Chemical’s 60kWh battery.>

On the other hand, number of sales volume of electric vehicles equipped with South Korean batteries increased by a lot. 20 out of 33 electric vehicle models were equipped with South Korean batteries early this year. This number then increased to 26 out of 39 electric vehicle models as new models were added during second half of this year.
GM Chevrolet’s ‘Bolt’, which is equipped with LG Chemical’s battery, took the first place based on sales volume in North Korea as its sales volume was 2,781 in October. ‘Volt’ and BMW ‘i3’ have also steadily increased their sales volumes.
Battery industries are predicting that market shares of South Korean batteries will continue to remain strong.
“While South Korean batteries are evenly used and preferred by American and European automotive manufacturers, Japanese batteries are mostly supplied to Japanese automotive manufacturers excluding Tesla.” said a representative of a battery industry. “Although South Korean batteries may be behind of Japanese batteries depending on popular models, competitions between South Korean batteries and Japanese batteries will become more competitive as more of new electric vehicles that will be released in the future will choose South Korean batteries over Japanese batteries.”
It is likely that sales volume of electric vehicles in North America this year will surpass 200,000 as 157,039 electric vehicles were sold until end of October. About 20% of growth is expected compared to how sales volume in 2016 was 158,614.
On the other hand, sales volume of Hyundai Motor Company’s only BEV model ‘IONIQ Electric’ in North America was only 330 after it was released in March. Sales volumes of Kia Motors’ ‘Soul EV’ and Hyundai Motor Company’s PHEV models are also low at about 200 per month.
Staff Reporter Park, Taejoon | gaius@etnews.com

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