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Posted: August 13, 2009

Ranking Battery Companies on the Lux Innovation Grid

(Nanowerk News) Advanced battery technologies for electric vehicles, the power grid, and other applications provide a breakthrough opportunity, addressing an energy storage market that will grow to $60 billion in 2013. However, they also present a bewildering landscape of new technologies, unfamiliar players and emerging markets. Discerning the value and trends in this complex space will require strategic tools like the Lux Innovation Grid, an intuitive reference available only in Lux Research’s latest report.
Titled “Ranking Battery Companies on the Lux Innovation Grid,” the report will help OEMs, materials suppliers, startups and investors successfully navigate the emerging battery space. Executives looking to form strategic joint ventures, tap new battery technologies or benchmark against the competition will gain valuable intelligence on the space, while investors will gain concrete insights into the comparative performance of individual companies.
“The battery space is no longer defined solely by established companies coming out with new products,” said Ying Wu, Senior Analyst at Lux Research, and the report’s lead author. “However, the immense number of new startups and emerging markets in transportation and the power grid makes it difficult to distinguish which companies will be the winners – a tool like the Lux Innovation Grid is an indispensible guide to making better decisions.”
The Lux Innovation Grid provides a visually intuitive snapshot of how individual battery companies compare in technical value, business execution and maturity. It positions companies based on factual information collected in over 200 primary interviews and site visits, independent evaluation by Lux Research analysts and on Lux’s market insights in each technology domain. Among the report’s key conclusions:
– Many players, but few stars, drive electric vehicle applications. Many companies developing Li-ion batteries for next-generation hybrid electric vehicles show wide variation in business execution and technical value. Some, like Kokam America look promising, but remain too immature to be considered sure winners. Only two companies stand out as leaders, Johnson Controls-Saft and Compact Power.
– Utility applications are looking for technologies able to scale. NGK Insulators and A123Systems are the battery developers to beat in the utility space. Their competitors can gain ground by demonstrating progress along the scale-up curve, and better business execution.
– Low-cost, but unproven technologies competing for portable power applications. An alphabet soup of battery technologies are nibbling at Li-ion’s early dominance in power tools, electric bikes and other portable applications. Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), nickel-zinc (NiZn) and even lithium-sulfur (Li-S) and lithium-air (Li-air) batteries are all pitching themselves as lower-cost alternatives.
“So far this year, battery companies have raised over $600 million in venture capital, which is already a huge increase over the $478 million invested in 2008,” said Ying. “Even so, the moderate return to investors could bring venture investors’ hopes for the sector back to earth, and further raise the stakes for battery startups.”
Source: Lux Research (press release)
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