Roughly 80 per cent of the world’s existing and planned battery production is in Asia, according to Bloomberg data. While Japan and Korea were early leaders, China now accounts for 69 per cent of capacity, the US 15 per cent and the EU less than 4 per cent. A quasi-monopoly for China in batteries would risk undermining Europe’s ability to compete with Chinese automakers. Beijing could, in theory, restrict future supplies. Asian manufacturers have already signed up much of the available supply of raw materials such as lithium and cobalt. Lack of an indigenous industry, moreover, hampers Europe’s chances of competing in next-stage technologies, as manufacturers race to reduce battery sizes and charging times. Battery cell plants require huge investment yet produce low-return, commoditised products. A cautionary tale for the EU is the solar industry where, helped by gener ous subsidies and loans, Chinese companies produced two-thirds of solar panels in 2010- 2015. Many European rivals went bust.
FT 18th Oct 2018 read more »