Panasonic is EV battery king today, but watch out for LG Chem

As a partner in Tesla's Gigafactory and boasting a 39-percent share of the EV battery market, Panasonic is currently sitting at the top of the industry. But like any king, the company needs to watch out for upstarts. According to a report by Lux Research, LG Chem could be in a position to take the lead in the coming years.

The research suggests that Panasonic's close ties with Tesla could be both the company's major strength and greatest weakness. The business just doesn't have major battery supply deals elsewhere. Meanwhile, LG Chem making partnerships all over the auto industry. It already creates the cells for the Chevrolet Volt, and the South Korean firm has agreements with Audi for its upcoming EV crossover and with Daimler for the next Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

"In the event of a surge in sales of plug-in hybrids by the German manufacturers, LG Chem would only need to win over Japan's Nissan to topple Panasonic," the report says. Since the company already has a deal with Renault, such a partnership isn't out of the question.

Lux Research predicts the global market for EV batteries to reach $30 billion by 2020. The researchers believe developing the next stage of tech beyond lithium-ion is a major key to future leadership among all the players in the industry.

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Panasonic Leads in EV Batteries With 39% Market Share, But Others Aim for Its Crown

LG Chem could claim lead in the emerging $30 billion market, if it can accelerate sales of plug-in hybrids with German OEMs and win over Nissan, says Lux Research

BOSTON, MA – August 18, 2015 – Panasonic is currently the runaway leader in the nascent battery market for electric vehicles, but LG Chem has the potential to overtake it in what will be a $30 billion market in 2020, according to Lux Research.

Panasonic's 39% share of the battery market for plug-in vehicles makes it the leading supplier, but its reliance on a single deal with EV leader Tesla leaves it vulnerable. Its lead rival LG Chem has already signed up large automakers including General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford. In the event of a surge in sales of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by the German manufacturers, LG Chem would only need to win over Japan's Nissan to topple Panasonic.

"The battery world's big three – Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung SDI – are engaged in an all-out war for market share in the emerging plug-in vehicle opportunity, yet their strategies differ wildly," said Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Senior Analyst and lead author of the report titled, "Watch the Throne: How LG Chem and Others Can Take Panasonic's EV Battery Crown by 2020."

Lux Research analysts assessed opportunities in the battery market for electric vehicles in light of Panasonic's dominant position. Among their findings:

Plug-in market is still in its infancy. Even Tesla, the poster-child of the EV revolution, holds less than a 0.1% share of global automotive sales. However, most auto majors are quickly offering more options: The Volkswagen Group, which sold 9.6 million units worldwide in 2014, plans 20 plug-in options by 2020.

Renault-Nissan Alliance is a wildcard. Renault-Nissan will account for 9% of this market in 2020. However, AESC, its joint venture that sources batteries from NEC, has underperformed, hobbled by high costs and lagging technology, leaving an opening for LG Chem (which already supplies Renault) to win over Nissan.

Next-generation technology is key to leadership. New technology beyond the current Li-ion batteries is key to the lower cost and higher performance need for future leadership. Already, Samsung Ventures has invested in solid-state battery developer Seeo and in graphene-silicon anode maker XG Sciences. Similarly, Volkswagen has backed Quantumscape and GM Ventures has invested in Sakti3, Envia Systems, and SolidEnergy Systems.

The report, titled "Watch the Throne: How LG Chem and Others Can Take Panasonic's EV Battery Crown by 2020," is part of the Lux Research Energy Storage Intelligence service.

About Lux Research

Lux Research provides strategic advice and ongoing intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit for more information.

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