The imbalance between supply and demand of lithium battery materials in China will slow down in 2022



"In recent years, the lithium battery industry has been particularly popular, and a number of listed companies with a market value of over 100 billion have been born. The primary market financing actions are also very frequent, which has spawned many high-value lithium battery materials and equipment companies." Experts pointed out that in the past two years, China's lithium battery industry has entered a state of high prosperity, and a number of lithium battery companies with high valuation and high market value have been incubated.

Among them, there are more than 15 listed companies with a market value of 100 billion RMB, and 2 companies with a market value of 1 trillion RMB. At the same time as the valuation of lithium battery companies has grown, there have been continuous investment and expansion projects in various segments of the lithium battery industry chain, and the scale of new production capacity and project investment have continued to rise. Regarding lithium-ion battery companies, the Top 10 lithium battery companies on our website have more detailed and professional introductions. This article will provide you with specific information and business layout of global lithium battery giants.


Numerous listed companies focus on the upstream material links of the lithium battery industry


According to incomplete statistics, in the past two years, China has invested in more than 600 lithium battery projects, with a cumulative investment of over 1 trillion RMB. The above-mentioned funds will be implemented in the next 2-3 years. The above projects are mainly invested and constructed by existing lithium battery companies, and a group of new entrants from across the border are also involved in the construction. Preliminary statistics show that in the past two years, more than 50 listed companies have entered the lithium battery industry, mainly in the upstream material sector.

2.Lithium industry chain products gross profit fluctuations

From the perspective of Q1 from 2015 to 2022, the overall gross profit margin of lithium battery materials fluctuates widely, generally at a low level in 2020, but will rebound sharply in 2021, and may fluctuate again in the later period. Specifically, the gross profit margin of lithium salt companies fell to the bottom in 2020 but rebounded to a high level in 2021, and reached a new high in Q1 in 2022. At present, the average gross profit margin of lithium salt companies is above 60%, even close to 80%. Horizontally, 2015-2017 was the concentrated profit period of the lithium salt industry, and 2018-2020 entered the adjustment period, and the gross profit margin of lithium salt companies continued to decline and even suffered substantial losses. 

Gross profit of diaphragm companies continues to decline.webp


In terms of the four main materials, the gross profit of the electrolyte product itself is relatively stable at 20%~30%, while the gross profit of lithium hexafluorophosphate is currently at a high level, but it will drop significantly in Q1 in 2022. Therefore, the gross profit advantage of electrolyte companies that deploy raw materials is obvious. In the field of cathode materials, the gross profit margin of iron phosphate and lithium iron phosphate companies was at a high point in 2015~2016, and fell to the bottom in 2020. The current gross profit level is 20%~30%. The gross profit of ternary precursor and ternary material enterprises is between 10% and 20%, mainly due to the high proportion of raw material costs.

The gross profit of battery separator companies continues to decline, and the differentiation is more serious in 2018-2020. The top enterprises can maintain at 40%-50%, and the industry reshuffle has been completed. The gross profit of anode material companies is relatively stable, fluctuating between 25% and 40%, and the lower limit of gross profit is higher than 10%. In terms of lithium batteries, the price of power battery systems has continued to decline in recent years, from 3 RMB/Wh in 2010 to about 0.6 RMB/Wh in 2020, and will rise to about 1 RMB/Wh in 2022 due to the increase in raw material prices. From 2021 to 2022, the gross profit of battery companies in Q1 will decline, and the profits of the industrial chain are mainly concentrated in upstream minerals and other key raw materials, which are generally around 20% at present.

3.Power battery cost reduction paths are diversified

Power battery cost reduction paths are diversified

The need to improve the performance of power battery products and reduce costs has driven the acceleration of the application of new materials and new processes for lithium batteries and the increase in the recycling and utilization of waste batteries. In terms of new materials, the industrialization of new lithium battery materials including silicon-based materials, lithium supplements, lithium manganese iron phosphate, and composite foils has begun to accelerate. It is expected that in 2022, the shipments of silicon-based (after compounding), lithium-replenishing agents, and compound foils will reach nearly 20,000 tons, 1,000 tons and 50 million square meters, respectively. 

Among them, 2022 is the first year of mass production of composite foils, which will first be used for high-nickel ternary batteries, and shipments will increase by 10 times in the next three years. The lithium iron manganese phosphate cathode will take the lead in mass production and application in the field of lithium batteries for electric two-wheelers in 2021. It is expected to be applied in batches in the field of pure electric passenger vehicles in 2023, and the shipment volume in 2025 is expected to exceed 300,000 tons. In terms of new technology, 4680 batteries have great advantages in heat dissipation, energy density improvement, and rate performance compared to traditional cylindrical batteries. 



However, the process requirements for rolling, coating, winding, cutting, liquid injection, welding, etc. are higher, and materials and equipment companies need to work together to solve them. In terms of battery recycling, driven by the sharp rise in the prices of raw materials such as cobalt, nickel and lithium, the regeneration value of waste battery recycling will be highlighted in 2021. In 2021, the scale of lithium battery recycling in China will increase by more than 60%, and the recycling price and gross profit margin will increase significantly, resulting in the birth of a number of high-value recycling companies.