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Asia Minute: Asia Dominates Electric Vehicle Battery Market


Electric vehicles still make up a small percentage of the cars on Hawai‘i’s roads — although they are growing. And according to a recent report by the credit agency Experian, Honolulu is among the top ten markets in the country for electric cars. But when it comes to batteries for electric vehicles, that part of the story comes from Asia.

Four companies have nearly two-thirds of the global market — and they’re all based in Asia.

That’s according to a recent report by SNE Research.

A Chinese company tops the list — Contemporary Amperex Technology — or CATL. The company was founded just eight years ago, and has nearly 22-percent of the global market.

Close behind is Panasonic with nearly the same market share. The Japanese company is the exclusive supplier of lithium ion batteries found in Tesla electric vehicles.

Another Chinese company is number three – although it’s best-known in some circles for an ownership stake belonging to a famous American investor. Back in 2008, Warren Buffet’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway invested about a quarter of a billion dollars into a maker of mobile phone batteries.

Today, the company BYD focuses on electric vehicles — the stock has appreciated about 500-percent since Buffet’s initial investment, and the company is now his largest stock holding outside the United States.

South Korea’s LG Chem is the fourth leading battery maker for electric vehicles with about 7.5 percent of the global market.

Asia’s dominance of the business is widely recognized. Late last year, Germany’s government set up a billion dollar fund to support the domestic production of battery cells.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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