Analysts are upbeat on hybridization and potential multi-battery designs hold for lead acid

Mar 01, 2010 | 04:58 AM | Tatyana Shumsky

The hybridization of America's auto fleet once threatened to make lead-acid batteries obsolete, but analysts now believe the veteran technology will serve as a workhorse for battery makers to piggyback the evolving hybrid market on.

"The transition has already begun, because there's more than a million hybrid vehicles on the road today. While those vehicles might not be economical today, there's improving visibility on costs becoming more economic in the future as different subsystems come down in cost," said Craig Irwin, senior vice president of equity research for clean technology in Wedbush Securities' New York office.

While hybrids will dominate new car sales in years to come, analysts differ on how quickly they will penetrate the on-road fleet.

UBS Securities LLC auto analyst Colin Langan takes a conservative view, pointing out that hybrids represent 2 to 3 percent of the 250 million vehicles on the road today. "From a cost perspective, hybrids are still not there and it's probably going to be a long path," he said.

In contrast, Boston Consulting Group Inc. sees the global auto market taking a decided turn toward hybridization during the next decade. "We anticipate that the approximately 14 million electric cars forecast to be sold in 2020 in China, Japan, the United States and Western Europe will comprise some 1.5 million fully electric cars, 1.5 million range extenders and 11 million hybrids. In the same year, the market for electric-car batteries in those regions will be worth some $25 billion," analysts at the Boston-based company said.....





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