EV battery power hitting roads jumped 40% last year – report

Electric cars are going mainstream. Image from Tesla.

New research shows that in 2020, a total of 134.5 GWh of battery capacity was deployed globally into newly sold passenger electric vehicles, with an additional up to 40 GWh already in sales channels and automaker assembly lines.

In 2020, a total of 134.5 GWh of passenger EV battery capacity was deployed globally into newly sold passenger BEVs, PHEVs and HEVs, an increase of 39.6% over the year prior, according to a bottom-up model-by-model analysis by Adamas Intelligence, which tracks demand for EV batteries by chemistry, cell supplier and capacity in over 90 countries, .

According to the Toronto-based research firm, this figure excludes an additional 15 to 20 GWh of installed passenger EV battery capacity idling in sales channels and a further 15 to 20 GWh in pack and automaker assembly lines.

LG Energy Solution (battery spin-off from LG Chem) took the top spot in 2020 by passenger EV battery capacity deployed onto roads, thanks in large part to its supply agreement with Tesla in China, coupled with its broad book of clients in Europe, including VW, Renault and Mercedes, among others.

CATL claimed a distant second place in 2020, propped up by its dominant presence in China and strong entry into the European market in the second half of the year, courtesy of Tesla and Groupe PSA, among others.

Trailing CATL by a thin margin was last year’s leader, Panasonic, which posted virtually no growth in deployment year-over-year, while LG Energy Solution, CATL, Samsung SDI, SK Innovation and numerous others posted significant gains.

Source: Adamas Intelligence. Click on chart for more

“In looking at EV sales channels and pack/automaker assembly lines, we believe that CATL currently has the greatest volume of cells percolating through the supply chain and is poised to see a spike in battery capacity rolling onto roads in the first half of 2021,” Adamas says.

Tesla hit by battery shortage

In a call to investors last month, CEO Elon Musk says Tesla doesn’t have enough cells to put new products like the Semi truck into production.

In a call to investors following disappointing financial results released last week, CEO Elon Musk says Tesla doesn’t have enough cells to put new products like Semi truck into production.

“Prototypes are easy. Scaling production is very hard.”

“The main reason we have not accelerated new products like the Tesla Semi is that we simply don’t have enough cells built. We could easily go into the production of the Semi, but we don’t have enough cells for it right now.”

Musk said while the Semi does not cost five times more than a passenger car it does require five times the number of cells which means the company will focus on producing cars until it could bring its own battery technology, announced last year, into production:

“We’ve been very clear with our cell suppliers, whether it be CATL or Panasonic or LG that we will take as many batteries as they can produce.”

After a year, that may be in time seen as the tipping point for electric vehicle adoption, the price of lithium turned higher at the end of 2020 for the first time in three years and soared to an 18 month high last month.