S. Korea, Japan Compete for Lithium Battery Market

Source:

"South Korea likely to replace Japan as the leader in production of mid-sized to small lithium-ion batteries."

According to a Japanese market research firm, the Institute of Information Technology (IIT), a recent report forecasts that this year South Korea will replace Japan as the leader in production of mid-sized to small lithium-ion batteries. Japanese manufacturers had a solid lead in the global lithium-ion battery market for the last 20 years, with the product promoted as a key development for the electronics industry. Advanced lithium battery manufacturing has historically been dominated by China, Japan and South Korea, together accounting for as much as 98% of the market last year.

While Japan's leadership within the market will remain significant in the near term, industry stake holders and analysts had already observed that the country was gradually losing market share. Japanese manufacturing still controlled 55% of global advanced battery production in 2009, down from 78% in 2002. Meanwhile, China's share rose to 25% from 11% in 2002, and South Korea's reached 18% in 2009 from just 6% in 2002.

At the end of last year, the South Korean government announced plans to boost supplies of the two resources from Korean-owned mines up to 10% of annual requirements this year from 5.5% last year. The objective was to increase stockpiles of about 30 minor metals including lithium and rare earths, to the equivalent of 13.5 days of consumption this year from 8.1 days last year. The country is planning to build a facility in the second half of this year to store strategic metals such as lithium, with a capacity of 35 days of consumption.

According to IIT, in terms of individual lithium battery manufacturers, South Korean companies have already eclipsed their Japanese rivals. South Korean companies are estimated to command global market share of 38.5% this year compared to 38.4% for Japan.

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