China plans to restrict its use of lead batteries in low-speed electric vehicles (EVs) from September this year in favour of lithium alternatives, according to a revised list of technical requirements for the sector.
Low-speed EVs have not previously been regarded as vehicles that qualify for proper licence plates in China, the world’s largest automobile market, but regulators are drafting rules to recategorise them.
For lead, the move “will cast a shadow over the demand outlook … in the medium to longer term,” ING analysts said in a note on Wednesday. Batteries are one of the main applications for the metal.
An industry meeting in Tianjin this month decided that lead battery should no longer be accepted for use in low-speed passenger EVs, according to a draft posted on a website run by the China Automotive Technology and Research Center late on Tuesday.
“Low-speed vehicles can only use lithium iron phosphate or ternary lithium batteries,” the draft read. Ternary lithium batteries are lithium-ion batteries that use three metals such as nickel, cobalt and manganese for their cathode component.
The proposals will be open for feedback in April and May ahead of planned implementation in September.
Meeting participants included the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which oversees EV standards, and the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The MIIT did not immediately confirm the change when contacted by Reuters.
State-backed metals research house Antaike said lead batteries would not be banned in the whole vehicle but would not be accepted as power batteries because of energy density requirements.
(By Yilei Sun and Tom Daly; Editing by Hugh Lawson)