Battery is the key component of electric vehicle (EV), and accounts for a very high proportion of the cost of it, therefore, it is a very important strategy for EV OEMs to establish deep cooperative relationships with battery manufacturers, and invest in factories together. In addition, the EV trend in recent years has not only attracted more startups, but also driven the active transformation of traditional automakers and the rapid growth of the market. This makes the partnerships between major EV OEMs and battery manufacturers change rapidly. Although there is a diversity of development, there is still a pattern which can be roughly divided into three groups: (1)American automakers have active ties with Japanese and South Korean battery manufacturers; (2)European car makers plan to cultivate local battery supply systems; and (3)Chinese, Japanese and South Korean automakers cooperate closely with their local battery manufacturers.
Taipei, Taiwan, November 22, 2021—The EV trend led by Tesla has attracted new and traditional car makers to move into the EV business, and more and more EV OEMs have or plan to internalize the value activities of manufacturing battery to control costs. Therefore, EV OEMs not only establish deep cooperative relationships with battery manufacturers, but invest in factories together, as shown in figure 1. “According to the current partnerships between major automakers and battery manufacturers, it can be roughly divided into three groups: (1)American automakers have active ties with Japanese and South Korean battery manufacturers; (2)European car makers plan to cultivate local battery supply systems; and (3)Chinese, Japanese and South Korean automakers cooperate closely with their local battery manufacturers.”said Dr. Y.-C. Hsu, co-founder & CEO at Researcher and Research LLC.
Figure 1 The strategic partnerships between main EV OEMs and battery suppliers
In terms of American car makers, Tesla has jointly built cell production lines with Panasonic, GM and Ford will build plants with LG Energy Solution (LGES) and SK On, respectively, while Rivian’s main battery supplier is Samsung SDI. It can be clearly seen from these partnerships that American EV OEMs rely heavily on the Japanese and South Korean battery suppliers, and from another perspective, Japanese and South Korean battery manufacturers are actively exploring the North American market. For example, LGES and Samsung SDI plan to build plants in North America with Stellantis, respectively.
What needs further explanation is that most of the models produced locally in China by the US and European car makers are in cooperation with Chinese battery manufacturers. For example, the battery supplier of Tesla Model 3 is CATL, while GM Wuling are Great Power (main supplier) and CALB (new entrant). It is worth noting that Tesla’s recent strategy of adopting LFP battery in its entry-level models globally will certainly drive other car makers to establish LFP battery partnerships with Chinese battery manufacturers.
In terms of European car makers, VW Group, BMW Group and Volvo strategically built plants with Northvolt, while Stellantis and Daimler cooperated with Automotive Cells Company (ACC). This clearly shows that European automakers want to establish a local battery supply system and use it as the main force for future supply.
In contrast, there are two kinds of cooperation between European car makers and other non-European (especially Chinese) battery manufacturers: one is outside Europe, for example, the joint venture factory of VW and Guoxuan High-tech mainly responds to the demand of the Chinese market. The second is the initiative of Chinese battery manufacturers, for example, China’s Envision AESC cooperated with Renault of R-N-M Alliance (Renault also has a cooperation plan with Verkor of France) to set up a joint venture plant in Europe, and China’s SVOLT established a battery factory in Germany to win orders from EV OEMs such as Stellantis.
In terms of Chinese, Japanese and South Korean car makers in Asia, the close cooperation with battery manufacturers can be said to be the national teams led by automakers, for example, close partnerships between SAIC and CATL in China, Toyota and Panasonic in Japan, and Hyundai and LGES in South Korea. Under the influence of national policies and corporate culture, there are looming barriers for these countries to protect local companies, which have become the best tool for automakers and battery manufacturers to work together.
Therefore, the car makers of these three countries choose their own country’s battery manufacturers as the main strategic partners, rather than cooperate with those of other countries. Even if they go to markets outside their home countries, they still cooperate with battery manufacturers of the same nationality. This is one of the biggest differences between the EV industry in China, Japan and South Korea and that in Europe and the US.
Finally, Dr. Hsu added that“In addition to the main EV OEMs and battery suppliers shown in the figure, there are more automakers and battery suppliers that are not included, as well as tech giants will soon join the competition. They will change the original strategic cooperation model at any time, and even subvert the rules of the game in this industry. From the perspective of the global EV market in 2022, Southeast Asia, the US and China may be the regions with the most changes in markets and technologies. In response to the new growth, the cooperation model between car makers and battery manufacturers, and even further innovation of the supply chain are reasonable developments.”
Researcher and Research here defines EV as battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), with passenger car as the primary purpose.
About Researcher and Research LLC
Established in January 2020, Researcher and Research LLC determined to be one of the best research companies in the field of market and strategy to help our clients think strategically to assess business investments. We will initially focus on research of electric vehicle (EV) market and automakers’ strategy, and then expand into other areas, such as EV battery supply and demand analysis and self-driving technology research. We believe that quality research will lead to a high level of customer and we are committed to continue to invest more research resources and provide better quality research services.
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