Huge Growth Seen for Large-capacity Li-ion Batteries in Japan, Firm Says

Mar 10, 2009
Yukiko Kanoh, Nikkei Electronics
Japanese domestic market for large-capacity secondary batteries
Japanese domestic market for large-capacity secondary batteries
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Fuji Keizai Co Ltd, a Japan-based research firm, announced the results of market research on large-capacity secondary batteries used in large products such as electric power tools, power-assisted bicycles, automobiles and power storage systems, as well as on the materials used in the batteries.

The research covers 35 products in four areas, automobiles/transport machines, power storage/load leveling, home appliances/DIY tools and industrial machines/machine tools.

According to Fuji Keizai, the Japanese domestic market for large-capacity secondary batteries is expected to reach ¥313.6 billion (approx US$3.18 billion) in fiscal 2008, an increase of 3.2% year-on-year. It forecasts that the market will total ¥532.1 billion in fiscal 2014, an increase of 69.7% compared with fiscal 2008.

Currently, lead-acid batteries account for more than 50% of the market, but the company expects that nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) secondary batteries will surpass lead-acid batteries by 2014 due to the expanding demand for hybrid cars, etc. It also released a promising forecast for the lithium-ion secondary battery and electric double layer capacitor markets.

Fuji Keizai estimates that the Li-ion secondary battery market will grow most significantly by fiscal 2014, with a 552.4% increase compared with fiscal 2008 to reach ¥94.6 billion. The second most promising market is the one for electric double layer capacitors, which is expected to reach ¥11.1 billion, up 311.1% from fiscal 2008. The NiMH battery market is expected to grow by 130.1% against fiscal 2008 to ¥207.8 billion.

NiMH and Li-ion secondary batteries to grow in the automobile/transport machine area

By type of battery, the Japanese domestic market for Li-ion secondary batteries is expected to reach ¥14.5 billion in fiscal 2008. More and more Li-ion secondary batteries are being used in all areas, for example, to replace NiMH secondary batteries, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries and lead-acid batteries, Fuji Keizai said.

By category, the automobile/transport machine area and the home appliance/DIY tool area will account for 53% and 46%, respectively, of the market. At present, the main application in the automobile/transport machine area is for use in power-assisted bicycles. From 2011 and onward, when the use of Li-ion secondary batteries in hybrid cars will go into full swing, the automobile/transport machine area will be rapidly expanded, according to the company.

The Japanese domestic market for NiMH secondary batteries is estimated to reach ¥90.3 billion in fiscal 2008. The automobile/transport machine area will account for more than 90% of the market, Fuji Keizai said. And the percentage will further increase because of the growing demand to use NiMH secondary batteries in hybrid cars, according to the company.

Meanwhile, the power storage/load leveling area is expected to account for a small market share in fiscal 2014, although field tests of photovoltaic and wind power generation are being conducted, the company said.

The Japanese domestic market for electric double layer capacitors will total ¥2.7 billion in fiscal 2008, according to Fuji Keizai. The company expects that the automobile/transport machine area will account for 53% of the market, while the industrial machine/machine tool area will account for 42%. Demand for electric double layer capacitors as backup power (auxiliary power for electronically controlled brake systems) in hybrid cars is soaring, according to the company.

Also Fuji Keizai forecasts that, from 2009 or 2010, electric double layer capacitors will begin to be used on a full scale for starters of cars equipped with idle reduction systems. Thus, the automobile/transport machine area is expected to grow in the future. In the industrial machine/machine tool area, electric double layer capacitors are increasingly being used in uninterruptible power systems (UPS), the company said.