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Lithium Batteries: Markets and Materials

Global lithium batteries market: $13.4 billion industry forecast by 2018

The global lithium batteries market was valued at almost $6.5 billion at the wholesale level in 2008 and is expected to reach $11 billion in 2013. It is projected that the market will grow to $13.4 billion by 2018, and register a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% from 2013 to 2018.

Until about 25 years ago, the battery market was seen as a mature market, with demand closely related to sales of either automobiles or various consumer products. Since then, improved lithium batteries have helped spark a dramatic change in this relationship. Just as lithium batteries replaced nickel-based and primary batteries for many applications, traditional lithium-ion battery designs are beginning to be replaced by advanced lithium-ion chemistries like lithium phosphate, lithium-iron phosphate, lithium-sulfur, and lithium-polymer systems.

There are now six commercial and developmental lithium battery types, nearly 30 commercialized electrode couples, and more than 1,000 specific designs. The latest generation of lithium batteries includes very large cells suitable for powering vehicles or storing significant amounts of utility power as well as very small thin-film cells capable of powering micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).

Though U.S. and European lithium battery manufacturing is underway, most lithium batteries are still currently manufactured in Japan, South Korea, or China. Lithium battery material companies include South American, U.S., and Canadian companies. Lithium battery research and development (R&D) takes place worldwide, but especially in the Far East, the U.S., Europe (especially France), and Canada. At the same time, there are more and more multinational lithium battery partnerships, including partnerships between U.S. and European or Far Eastern companies.

Near-term growth in this market is being driven by increased research and development spending, stabilization of the consumer products market, and growing acceptance of electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

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