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Power battery capacity idle high, safety is still a problem

With the rapid growth of new energy vehicles, China's power battery industry also shows a rapid growth trend. However, with the advent of the new energy post-subsidy era, the new energy vehicle and power battery industry are facing a reshuffle. In the future, it will be possible for China to have 3-5 power battery companies with competitive strength in the world. But because the current market demand is driven by the government with subsidies, not real rigid demand, enterprises need to pay attention to the industry bubble.

80% of capacity has not been released

With the support of national policies, China's production and sales of new energy vehicles have ranked first in the world for three consecutive years, accounting for more than 50% of the global market. However, in the context of the transformation of traditional automobile enterprises and the competitive influx of all kinds of capital, China's new energy vehicle overcapacity risks accumulated. Economic observer previously showed that from 2015 to the end of June 2017, more than 200 new energy vehicle projects have been completed in China, and various auto companies have announced plans for new energy vehicle production capacity of more than 20 million vehicles.

At the same time, China faces severe overcapacity in domestic power batteries. Data from relevant research institutions show that during 2015-2017, more than 30 power battery enterprises were established in China, and their capacity planning is generally 6-10gwh. The construction is divided into three phases, and the first phase has been basically completed.

According to the calculation, if all the current production capacity is released, it will form a huge production capacity of 170GWh/ year, which is about 7 times more than the actual market demand at present, and can meet the total demand of 5 million electric passenger cars and 500,000 electric buses per year. According to the prediction, China will not meet such a huge market demand until 2025.

In 2018, China's power battery production capacity was 260G watt-hours, but only 50G watt-hours were sold, with 4/5 of the capacity not released. Data from relevant research institutions show that in 2017, China's power battery capacity reached 180Gwh, and the capacity utilization rate was 40%. The 20% utilization rate in 2018 means that China's power battery capacity utilization rate is further reduced.

Under the influence of the downward trend of the auto market and subsidy policies, the independent auto companies, joint venture auto companies and new car manufacturers are facing more pressure on the product layout and quality of new energy vehicles, and the importance of battery technology is becoming more important. A growing number of car companies are developing their own batteries, adding to the pressure on the power battery industry.

In addition, industry experts said that Japanese and south Korean companies aimed at 2020 China's new energy vehicle subsidies fade point, hoping to share in the power battery market in two years, and will rely on low cost, refined manufacturing and other advantages, China's existing power battery market caused a huge impact.

China, Japan and South Korea in the choice of power battery technology road, have certain independence, and no enterprises which others cannot master skills, unique power battery enterprise at present in China's biggest advantage is the most broad market, but he also pointed out that existence of lithium electricity industry in China industry concentration degree is not high, enterprise low barriers to entry, such as the prevalence of local protectionism multiple problems. They're talking about industrialization, we're talking about laboratories. To realize the industrialization of power battery, not only the performance of positive and negative electrode materials needs to be improved, and there are as many as 50 related indicators. At the level of industrialized power batteries, China has put forward clear regulations on range, specific energy of single battery, cycle life and other aspects.

Security is the biggest challenge

If there is no obvious technological breakthrough in the material of current power batteries, it will be difficult to make further breakthroughs after the specific energy develops to a certain level. At the same time, the negative impact on security is growing. At present, many enterprises and investors mistakenly regard electric vehicles as battery driven, but actually they should be power driven. The future of electric vehicles should pursue the safety and reliability of battery pack integration and system.

According to incomplete statistics, there were more than 30 electric vehicle fire accidents in China in 2018, involving different models of passenger cars, passenger cars and logistics vehicles, and many accidents were attributed to the "heat runaway" problem of batteries. Although not all fires are clearly caused by battery problems. However, some industry experts believe that, compared with the traditional fuel car, the pure electric car except for the power system is different, the body, interior and exterior decoration is basically the same, so the battery system is the main cause of pure electric car combustion.

Fuel car ignition can find the rule, but in the power lithium battery system, because the flammable electrolyte and combustion promoter oxygen and fire source are sealed in the same container environment, the safety uncertainty is particularly prominent. Until the ignition law of lithium battery is mastered, the balance between energy density, safety and long life should not be neglected.

It is understood that the lithium ion battery mainly has the positive electrode, the aluminum foil, the negative electrode, the copper foil, the membrane and the electrolyte six parts. Under the guidance of the current battery's pursuit of high energy density, in order to ensure sufficient energy supply, both positive and negative electrodes and electrolytes are required. Pressing the diaphragm thickness has become the main way to improve energy density. The original mainstream lithium ion battery diaphragm thickness is 30-40 microns, but now it is only 12 microns.

Membrane thinning becomes a huge potential hazard to battery safety. It is known that the samsung Note7 battery fire in 2016 is because the diaphragm is too thin and easy to be sharp material puncture, resulting in a short circuit of the battery caused by explosion. The same goes for lithium batteries, where flammable electrolytes, spiny "dendrites" and oxygen are separated by a membrane. A lithium battery is like a tinderbox, a booster and a lighter in a small room, separated by a film and, crucially, a lighter.

In addition, the battery development and validation of various materials, need 1-2 years or longer, and at present the country once a year than the rapid upgrading of energy power battery system, adjusting with the development of the passenger vehicle power battery system required cycle is not harmonious, the result is that many validation work cannot be fully verified, frequent cause fire accident.

At present, China's power battery industry is faced with multiple challenges, such as insufficient range, short battery life and heavy battery pack. However, under the dual pressure of the price hike of upstream raw materials and the price reduction of downstream vehicle enterprises, the power battery production enterprises are faced with serious shortage of funds for subsequent development. The requirement of improving quality and reducing cost of power battery requires the cooperation of the whole new energy automobile industry chain.


Contact: Geely Zhang

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