2011 is the commencing year for the next five-year plan for the Chinese government which put a great emphasis on 7 emerging industries that can help achieve energy-saving and carbon-reducing targets.
One of the development focuses for the Chinese auto industry is to consolidate electrification of automobiles and hybrid power technologies. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of People’s Republic of China recently announced that China will invest more than 100 billion RMB in the next 10 years to show support for the new energy automobile industry to make China become the largest production country for new energy vehicles.
As for NiMH battery, China is leading in the technology development and resources. In the next few years, NiMH battery, LiMPO4 and Hydrogen Fuel Cell technologies will equally enjoy their respective popularity in the market but will be gradually replaced by lithium battery and fuel cell battery. Both dominant market players, Panasonic and Sanyo, believe that it is not practical for lithium power battery to replace NiMH battery in the next 2-3 years mainly due to cost and safety issues in addition to the fact that NiMH batteries are already mass produced.
Companies devoted to research and development of lithium battery include Chinese makers Wanxiang Group, BYD, Shenzhen Bak Battery, Tianjin Lishen Battery. Notably, BYD who leads the market in LiMPO4 manufacturing has launched own branded electric vehicle E6 and hybrid vehicle F3DM that adopt batteries produced in house.
In terms of technology development of lithium battery, a research team from MIT has successfully developed a new lithium-ion battery technology that allows faster charge time, reduced to as little as a few minutes after years of research effort.
Notably, this new technology retains both advantages of lithium battery and lead-acid battery. Its electrolyte has lower manufacturing cost and requires much shorter recharge time. The application is also more convenient because the lower corrosion and the higher power density is also key to developing lighter-weight battery. Such battery technology is a practical option to replace currently in-use lead acid batteries in automobile applications.