Batteries … PHEVs/Hybrids to drive market?

Power storage is a key challenge for many paths forward to a better energy future. Whether finding a power storage system as efficient as gasoline or a path for cost-effectively storing intermittent power to enable renewable sources like wind and solar to pick up baseload power requirements, storage is a real challenge.  And, for hybrids/plug-in hybrids/electric vehicles, power storage (read batteries) has been a real challenge in investmetn.  Thanks to Green Car Congress for a tip to a new study that suggests that hybrid battery requirements will be a bigger market than traditional batteries within the next decade.

Key points from the GCG report:

  • Hybrid sales should climb from 384k in 2006 to 1.1 million in 2010 to 2 million in 2015.
  • PHEVs are not likely to be at commercial volume levels by 2015. [NOTE: Personally, I believe this a pessimistic projection … PHEVs could explode into the market space.]
  • HEV-batter market will grow from $600 million in 2006, $1.4 billion in 2010, and $2.3 in 2015.  The current traditional car battery business is about $2 billion.
  • Toyota is projected to have 60% of the HEV market (down from today’s 78%), Honda/Ford/GM will splite 25%, with all other automakers accounting for 15%.
  • NiMH batteries will maintain their dominance, with Li-ion having 36% of the market by 2015.

Now, the report notes that hybrids might grow faster — I tend to think that they will (as long as one counts PHEVs and EVs into this equation) — if “the cost of petroleum-based fuels increases significantly” [Peak Oil anyone???] “and if the concern over global warming translates into notable government involvement … to encourage the production of fuel-efficient cars.”  [Anyone not expected that to happen.]

7 responses to “Batteries … PHEVs/Hybrids to drive market?

  1. I remember reading about flywheel technology about a decade ago (it seems), I guess that didn’t go as far as it was hoped. For fixed installations like a home it would seem to be ideal — spin up the flywheel during the day with solar, spin it down to generate electricity at night.

    The articles at the time were talking about carbon-fiber flywheels at 100,000 rpm in a vacuum, with a magnetic bearing. Have to assume it didn’t work out, but it’s an elegant solution.

    And with respect to the government getting involved — the government didn’t promote SUVs, the market chose them when gas was $1.15 a gallon. When gas gets to $3.75 a gallon this fall, people will probably tend to go more economical. I did.

  2. Darren,

    RE SUVs, while not the full market space, the government has given a very favorable situation for ‘going bigger’ through the 100% deduction for $100k for vehicles above 6000 lbs for small businesses. There are reasons why doctor’s (accountants, lawyers, small business owners’) wives (or husbands) are driving huge SUVs to the grocery store.

    What if the “tax code” for businesses were favoring fuel efficient vehicles rather than luxury gas guzzlers? Would these spouses be driving Hybrid Lexus’ instead?

  3. I didn’t get the Lexus Hybrid specifically because I didn’t see the point of an electrical system mated to a high-performance V6. Encouragement of hybrid technology to beat the kid in the modded Mitsubishi off the line at a stoplight is not, IMO, a fruitful use of hybrid technology. Same for the Toyota Highlander, which is essentially a RX440h with lower trim and exists primarily to lower the unit cost on the 440h. The upcoming LS600h is even sillier. Without an efficient ICE, a hybrid vehicle is a sop to the conscience, a weight penalty, and not much else.

    There aren’t enough lawyer, accountant and doctors or their wives to explain a 10-year boom in SUVs. There are still lawyers, accountants and doctors, there is still the tax deduction and yet there are now massive factory incentives to move SUVs.

    Yes, the tax code favors 6,000lb vehicles. The tax code also favors hybrids, I certainly took the tax credit (much better than a deduction, in practice). I would favor extending it for hybrids that are selling well, Toyota’s limit has already been met, IIRC, and 60,000 hybrids per manufacturer is just not enough hybrids. What will work even better than tax incentives is sustained gasoline prices that make hybrids pay off in their usable lifetimes.

    I have heard pro and con arguments about nanocapacitors, they would seem to be an ideal solution over traditional batteries but they are, like many things, not quite there yet. I would never take a bet against the materials sciences people, though.

  4. I think the bigger problem is that the fuel itself is subsidized by not accounting for it’s real environmental and geopolitical impact.

  5. Darren & Jimmy — I’m mainly in agreement with you. And, yes, there were a lot of reason for big SUV boom and the 6000 lb tax incentive is only a small (even if extremely aggravating) part of that.

  6. Subsidized?

    The average of 43 cents a gallon in fuel taxes nationwide, as of 2002, would suggest that some fees are already being removed. Also, carbon accounting is largely a SWAG, given the inability to accurately predict the future impact of damage, if any. If the government wasn’t able to calculate this, I’m pretty sure the private sector insurers and reinsurers would be giving it a good college try, since they’re the ones that will end up paying for the assumed damage to property.

    In practice and likely to stay competitive between catastrophic events the insurers typically only add an impact fee after an event like Katrina or 9/11, but if there was consensus on what the impact of higher CO2 levels would be that was good enough for making policy the insurers would already be on that like a duck on a june bug, and corporate insurance rates would reflect it.

    Peak Oil (or as I like to call it, Peak Cheap Oil) will handle the demand reduction all by itself without the addition of nebulous carbon taxes of questionable impact and even more questionable disbursement. If the Congress can’t keep its hands out of the SSI cookie jar, I’m thinking that the carbon taxes will end up as part of the ‘General Fund’.

    Part of the reason politics are so acrimonious is the significance of winning, it’s gaining control of 20% of the economy and a rudder that steers a lot of the rest. Giving the government more money is usually not a good idea regardless of the party in power.

  7. I’m looking forward to the purchase of a PHEV because I’ll charge it using free power from my PV system. This technology has the potential to eliminate my gasoline bills. It can’t get any better than that!

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