The automotive sector will drive the increase in demand for lithium-ion batteries worldwide by 2020, when production is expected to reach nearly 300 GWh, according to some experts. Electric vehicles will likely account for most of the production since sustainable vehicles have become more popular among consumers. The outlook will eventually lead to key changes in the value of materials used for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.
Electric car manufacturers will have to stay updated on the current trends for producing batteries. For instance, a graphite and cobalt price forecast would be beneficial in the future. Aside from the automotive industry, the global demand for batteries will also increase in the next two years due to the growing popularity of stationary storage and lower battery prices. Cathodes, on the other hand, will remain popular in the next 10 years. This means that manufacturers will regularly have to monitor nickel, cobalt, and manganese prices, and analyze any potential changes in the supply chain.
It is also possible that lithium-ion battery prices will further decline if 3-D technology becomes a mainstream alternative for production. Duke University researchers from North Carolina have discovered a way to create lithium-ion batteries in different shapes.
The current production requires manufacturers to designate space for the battery, which normally comes in cylindrical rectangular shapes, according to the researchers. By using 3-D printing, manufacturers can save on space and expand the possibilities for new designs. The discovery still needs some time to be usable in the commercial sector, as 3-D-printed batteries contain only two orders of magnitude—less than the desired capacity for commercial use.
Vehicle manufacturers and other companies that rely on lithium-ion batteries should consider professional market price assessment and consultancy. This will help them with deciding when it is right to make strategic investments in chemical metals for battery production.