Why Elon Musk is right about batteries being the future of automobiles

Filed under: EV/Plug-in, AutoblogGreen Exclusive, China

China International Battery Fair 2014

Recently, I visited the China International Battery Fair in Shenzhen. This is perhaps the largest battery show in the world, with over 980 exhibitors covering three-quarter of a million square feet. The three-day exhibition was followed by a three-day conference on battery technology and innovation drawing battery scientists from all over the world.

Almost everybody in the battery industry in China attends this show. There were lead acid batteries, NiCad batteries and all kinds of lithium-ion batteries. There were manufacturers of battery electrodes, separators and battery cases. Battery assembly equipment manufacturers were also present.

Most people think of China as a low-tech cheap labor market, but Chinese companies are now making the robots to produce batteries. Back in 2008, Chinese battery assembly equipment manufacturers were struggling to produce cylindrical cells. Today they have mastered the production of cut and stacked cells (which is where the future of lithium-ion technology is heading).

China’s central government is investing huge resources into the battery industry to make China the world leader of battery technology.

One hundred years ago the engine was the key to manufacturing an automobile; for electric vehicles the battery is the key: that is where the power comes from. Batteries are the most expensive component in an electric vehicle, sometimes exceeding more than half the bill of materials cost. Tesla’s Gigafactory will change the entire automobile industry and give Tesla an incredible competitive advantage, putting Tesla years ahead of all other automobile manufacturers. Tesla will turn its electric vehicle manufacturing volume into a battery cost advantage and make it very difficult for other automobile manufacturers to compete.

The Chinese government also understands the importance of batteries to the electric vehicle industry. The central government is investing huge resources into the battery industry to make China the world leader of battery technology. Close to 900 of the exhibitors at the CIBF were Chinese manufacturers.

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Why Elon Musk is right about batteries being the future of automobiles originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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