Battery-manufacturing capacity will have to grow dramatically for electric cars to surpass internal-combustion vehicles in the 2030s, according to a new report produced by Ultima Media, and sponsored by Swiss tech firm ABB.
The report’s conclusion is based on two predictions: that electric cars are poised to overtake sales of internal-combustion vehicles by 2036, and that 80 battery factories will be in operation globally by that time.
That number of factories won’t be sufficient to meet battery demand from all of those new EVs, according to the report. An even greater increase in manufacturing capacity will be needed not only to meet demand, but to provide some headroom, as the theoretical maximum capacity of a factory is rarely achieved in real life.
Global battery supply is insufficient to meet demand – ABB study
The report’s authors advocated co-locating battery-pack assembly and vehicle assembly as a way to boost useful capacity. The report also pushes increased automation, which is to be expected, as robotics are one of the businesses of sponsor ABB.
It also touched on supply chains and raw materials, noting that Europe “has set a road map” for sustainable raw-material production. Tight raw-material supplies and concerns over a lack of domestic sourcing led to a Biden administration Executive Order earlier this year, calling for increased domestic production of both batteries and semiconductors.
Mercedes-Benz battery production
Various CEOs—of Ford, for instance—have noted the importance of a stronger supply chain for the United States as well. That was also likely some of the motivation behind the battery rethink presented at Tesla’s Battery Day last year.
However, individual automakers still prefer to use their own specific cell configurations and chemistries. That’s an important way for automakers to achieve a competitive advantage over rivals, or tailor products to specific regions, but it may also form a bottleneck in battery production, the report warned.
Battery research also accounts for up to a third vehicle costs—with ABB’s pitch perhaps being that its robotics will allow for increased manufacturing productivity to balance that out.