Batteries Power a Robust Market

Batteries are one of today’s hottest products, with billions of dollars being poured into various R&D efforts around the world. While automotive applications heat up, consumer electronics will continue to drive the market in the near future.

Batteries are one of today’s hottest products, with billions of dollars being poured into various R&D efforts around the world. In addition to large players such as Johnson Controls Inc. (Milwaukee), Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Osaka, Japan), SAFT SA (Bagnolet, France) and Sanyo Electric Co. (Osaka, Japan), hundreds of new start-up companies, such as A123 Systems Inc. (Watertown, MA) and Firefly Energy Inc. (Peoria, IL), make it an extremely competitive industry.

According to a recent study conducted by the Freedonia Group Inc. (Cleveland), worldwide battery demand will increase 4.8 percent annually between now and 2012. The industry will grow from $71 billion in 2007 to $90 billion in 2012.

The non-lead-acid secondary battery market is expected to outpace demand for primary and lead-acid secondary batteries through 2012, Freedonia analysts predict. Sales of lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries and, to a lesser extent, nickel-metal hydride batteries will be spurred by the widespread popularity of electronic devices such as cell phones and portable digital audio players. The rapid growth in hybrid vehicle production will also boost global demand for these types of batteries.

Analysts at BCC Research (Wellesley, MA) claim that communication products currently account for the largest share (31 percent) of the portable battery-powered products market. Other big battery consumers include computers (23 percent) and medical (15 percent) products. Cameras (8 percent) and toys (6 percent) also continue to be important applications for battery manufacturers.

Tools (2 percent) and navigation devices (2 percent) are much smaller segments of the market. The smallest portion of the pie is military applications (1 percent), but this segment is growing 12 percent annually. In fact, BCC analysts predict this market will jump from $1.8 billion in 2008 to $3.2 billion by 2013.

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