Electric Vehicles- The Clever Ten Year Strategies

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    Ontario premier dalton mcguinty sits behind the wheel of a chevrolet volt during a press conference in toronto on wednesday, july 15, 2009 to announce support for ontarians buying electric vehicles. (the canadian press/darren calabrese)

    The electric vehicle business is over $33 billion today at ex factory prices but cars are less than half of that. As the market nearly quintuples over the next ten years, cars will rise to nearly 55% of the business but the devil is in the detail. Last year, Mitsubishi expected to make its electric car business profitable by 2013 but then Nissan warned that governments may cut back subsidies for electric cars due to the ongoing global financial meltdown and profits may slip far into the future. Certainly, most of the profits in electric vehicles will remain beyond mainstream electric cars for the next ten years. In 2020, the car manufacturers will still be slogging it out to see which three end up with secure, profitable growing electric car businesses of tens of billions of dollars in the decade after that, when growth eases.
    Many profitable electric vehicle manufacturers
    By contrast, today there are already many profitable electric vehicle manufacturers with other strategies, including Linde in electric forklifts, Kongsberg in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles AUVs, Jinangsu Xinri Electric Vehicle Company in e-bikes, Pride Mobility in electric mobility vehicles for the disabled and Tesla in designer sports cars. Little wonder that more and more of them are expanding into several other, carefully chosen multi billion dollar EV sectors.
    Profitable traction batteries
    Much the same picture pertains with traction batteries, the largest single driver of cost and performance of most of these vehicles. Here there is even more horizontal selling but the savvy players choose their targets carefully. For example, Electrovaya of Canada recently showed its first profit of $549,000. A manufacturer of battery operated healthcare products, its entry into traction batteries has been in specialist vehicles such as the Hummer military vehicle, the Dodge Ram pickup truck and the Canadian Maya low speed car, Tata and Hero. Its batteries are the safer lithium polymer type.
    The new IDTechEx report “Vehicle Traction Batteries 2010-2020” looks at all traction batteries and the winning strategies. The rapidly growing market for traction batteries will exceed $55 billion in only ten years. However, that spans battery sets up to $500,000 each with great sophistication needed for military, marine and solar aircraft use. Huge numbers of low cost batteries are being used for e-bikes but even here several new technologies are appearing. The largest traction battery replacement market is for e-bikes today and the value market for replacement batteries will not be dominated by cars when their batteries last the life of the car – something likely to happen within ten years. The trends are therefore complex and that is why IDTechEx has analysed them with great care.

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