Lithium Batteries Conquer the Entire Mobility Sector

Dear Friends & Shareholders,

There’s no question about it: the largest and fastest-growing application for lithium-ion batteries is electric cars. This segment is where the largest quantities of cells and battery packs are needed worldwide; however, electric drive concepts are being used in a growing number of areas. Electric buses are already widespread in most Chinese metropolises. Shenzhen is the most advanced city, where the electric car pioneer, Build Your Dreams (BYD), is located and all buses on the roads are exclusively electric. Other big cities, such as Beijing, are now following suit – even in Europe.

While electric buses have, more or less, taken over the streets in China, electric trucks are just about to make their debut. Tesla plans to introduce their “Semi” in 2020, an electric long-haul truck expected to have a range of 800 kilometers (500 miles). Three years ago, Mercedes-Benz presented the eActros and became the first manufacturer in the world with a heavy-duty electric truck.  The aim of the Germans is to ensure that heavy series production trucks drive emission-free and quietly in cities from 2021, reducing both air and noise pollution. At that time, they should be able to compete economically with diesel trucks.

The manufacturers of construction machinery are already a little further ahead. Here, as in most other areas, the catalyst is stricter emission laws such as those in China. In particular, small and medium-sized construction machines are available in all-electric versions. For heavy equipment, electric motors tend to be used in addition to diesel engines.

Quiet and Emission-free Ships

Not only is Norway is the leader for electric car adoption, they are also leaders in the electric ship segment. Long-term tests with electrically driven ferry boats have been running in the country since 2015 where there is already a total of around 180 ferries. The Norwegian environmental organization, Bellona, believes that 84 of these could be converted to a fully electric drive. A further 43 ferries would qualify for a hybrid drive.

Electric drives are also well-suited for passenger ships used in the cruise industry. Noise and exhaust nuisance for humans and animals could be eliminated not only in the Norwegian fjords, but also on bathing lakes. The German specialist Torqeedo has already equipped thousands of sailing, tourist and inflatable boats with outboard electric motors.

Small electrically powered vehicles such as scooters or e-bikes are also a reality. In China, but also in countries like Israel, they have long been part of the cityscape. E-scooters were also recently approved in Germany. E-bikes are already further along – they reach a market share of around 20% in Germany – and the trend is rising.

Air Taxis Not Merely Dreams of the Future

There will probably be electric-powered passenger drones much sooner than is often assumed. The first maiden flights have already taken place. In the coming year, trial flights are scheduled to start in cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Los Angeles and Dallas. Experts expect the commercial launch to take place in 2023. Two years later they could transport people over shorter and medium distances without a pilot. If expensive flight personnel are eliminated, air taxis will also become price-competitive. In terms of time, they already are today. Passenger drones are faster than conventional means of transport from distances of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

In addition, there is a large growth market that has nothing to do with mobility: electricity storage systems that are used in real estate or wind and solar parks. Powerwalls that store the electricity from solar modules on the roofs of homes already exist. Once again, Tesla is at the forefront of large systems. The electric transport pioneer is building powerpack projects in Australia that are to reach the size of conventional coal-fired power plants.

The big breakthrough will certainly come first with electric motors for cars but the other areas will follow. In this context, it is interesting to note that the demand estimates for batteries and the raw materials required for them often relate only to the automotive sector. If there are also breakthroughs in the other areas of application, these forecasts will need to be revised upwards.