EV BATTERIESEV Batteries: Chinese Dominance Raises Thorny Questions

By Srinivas Mazumdaru

Published 18 April 2023

Chinese firms currently dominate the electric vehicle battery supply chain — from mining and refining through to final assembly. This leaves Western automakers with little option but to rely on Chinese-made batteries.

The Shanghai Auto Show is opening its doors to car enthusiasts all over the world on Tuesday, after it was canceled last year due to China’s strict zero-COVID curbs.   

A slew of Chinese and foreign automakers taking part in the event are girding to impress the visitors by unveiling their latest models and technologies, particularly electric vehicles (EVs).

Chinese firms, including BYD, Geely and Nio, will display a bevy of electric vehicles, with which they aim to cement their already formidable position in the world’s largest auto and EV market.

It shows how EVs have come to steal the show in the global auto scene amid carmakers’ ambitious e-mobility plans and support from governments worldwide against the backdrop of growing concerns over climate change.

The Biden administration in the United States, for instance, is proposing new rules to cut pollution from automobiles, which would require as many as two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the United States to be electric by 2032.

That would be a nearly tenfold increase over current electric vehicle sales.

The EU, meanwhile, aims to speed up the switch to EVs by effectively banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the bloc from 2035.

Demand for EV Batteries to Skyrocket
News agency Reuters estimates that the world’s top automakers are planning to invest nearly $1.2 trillion (€1.08 trillion) in EVs and batteries through 2030.

And according to the International Energy Agency, the share of battery-powered cars in total auto sales worldwide will jump from about 10% in 2021 to more than 60% by 2030.

All these tens of millions of vehicles will need plenty of batteries — the single most-expensive component in an electric vehicle, accounting for about 30-40% of its cost. 

Given the anticipated surge in demand, governments and companies are racing to secure adequate supplies.  

But there’s one country that’s clearly in the lead when it comes to battery tech: China.

The Asian giant dominates battery production, accounting for almost 75% of global manufacturing capacity, according to BloombergNEF.