While larger-scale production will help reduce costs, the effect of scale-up and likely technology improvements bring nominal battery pack cost only to $397/kWh in 2020 – far short of the $150/kWh target from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) and not enough to reach the mass market, the market researchers reckoned.
“Vehicle applications demand a different scale in both size and performance, and no other incumbent technology combines the power and energy performance of Li-ion batteries,” said Kevin See, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Searching for Innovations to Cut Li-ion Battery Costs. Plug-in vehicles' fates are tied to the cost of Li-ion batteries, so developers need to focus on the innovations that have biggest impact on cost."
To see what technologies can impact Li-ion battery cost, Lux Research studied the cost structure of Li-ion batteries, and considered the innovations that could drive disruptive decreases in cost necessary to spur growth of the electric vehicle market. Among their conclusions:
- Materials improvement and scale are insufficient to cut costs. While scale does have a significant impact in driving costs down, it is not likely to lead to a disruptive drop in battery pack costs unless coupled with other innovations.
- Cathodes remain the biggest target. Cathode capacity and voltage improvement hold much more value than anode innovation. In the optimal case, with a maximum voltage increase of 1V and capacity increase of 200 mAh/g, the nominal pack cost dropped 20%.
- Beyond Li-ion remains a focus. Technologies such as Li-air, Mg-ion, Li-S and solid-state batteries push past the limitations of Li-ion batteries and achieve higher energy densities and specific energies. Each technology has its supporters – PolyPlus and IBM for Li-air, Toyota for Mg-ion, Sion Power and BASF for Li-S and Sakti3 for solid state batteries — but all face significant obstacles. A clear leading contender that can meet strict requirements on cycle life, power