South Korea’s Samsung SDI and LG Chemical is looking to produce more cylindrical batteries to prepare to supply to high-end electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3.
According to market research firm SNE Research on Aug. 26, the global cyclical battery market reached 125GWh this year, up from the 70GWh in 2017. Next year, the market is likely to grow another 33% to 150GWh. This surpasses the annual growth rate of 19.1% between 2011 and 2016.
Cylindrical batteries have become bigger and more energy-efficient. Energy density went up to 4800mAh when they grew from 18650 (diameter 18mm, height 65mm) to 21700 (diameter 21mm, height 70mm). For the 18650 models, 3200mAh was the highest density.
Both Samsung and LG have already expanded related facilities. In Marcy, Samsung SDI added more production lines to its cyclical battery lines in Tianjin City of China and has initiated mass production. The plant can produce an annual 2 million of For the 21700 model battery cells a month. In total, the company is currently manufacturing more than a monthly 10 million of such cells.
LG Chem, meanwhile, is producing an annual 1 billion 18650 and 21700 cyclical battery cells from its facilities in Nanjing of China.
The two firms are saying they are both open to even more production expansions. In its second quarter earnings announcement, LG Chem said it will continue to increase production based on orders. Samsung SDI, which has made up to 1 trillion won of CAPEX investment a year, has indicated the same.
The firms are also preparing for more orders. Samsung SDI is considering investment into the Pohang CAM 6 in order to secure exclusive supplies of NCA, a high nickel cathode that can improve battery energy density, from EcoProBM, which may set up the NCA lines at the Samsung unit in exchange for investment or funding.
LG Chem is also looking to develop high nickel cathode cylindrical batteries that allows EVs to drive for longer distances on a single charge.
Analysts say supplying Tesla would ramp up 2 trillion won of sales and operating profit by 100 billion won or more. More than 3000 cylindrical batteries go into a single Tesla Model 3.
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