The lithium-ion battery world, with the introduction of electric vehicles, has been shaken over the last few years, but that isn’t preventing BASF from taking an interest.
The electric vehicle world has also been in a state of upheaval, birth pangs, if you will, dominated by Tesla Motors and Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle. On the other hand, the failure of promising automakers, such as Fisker Automotive and CODA, hasn’t been good for the industry. Of course, an electric vehicle is nothing without its battery pack and even promising lithium-ion battery developers, such as A123 Systems and Envia Systems, have suffered for lack of demand and even failed technology.
Still, electric vehicles are expected to dominate, Tesla Motors, for example, is planning for a cheaper mass-production vehicle, the Tesla Model E, at a volume of 300,000 vehicles per year. Tesla Motors also expects to have a 35 Gwh/yr-capacity lithium-ion battery factory up and running by 2020, which won’t quite double worldwide lithium-ion battery capacity when it’s finally operational. The world’s biggest chemical company, BASF in Germany, is also taking an interest in lithium-ion battery development.
BASF may be behind in lithium-ion battery development but, with a $2.3 billion research-and-development budget, BASF might be able to catch up very quickly. Interestingly, Tesla Motors expects the Tesla Giga-Factory to require up to $5 billion in investments, $2 billion by Tesla Motors alone. Will this be a good move for BASF? The benefits may take some time, but if BASF can improve the lithium-ion battery, and capitalize on it, it will prove to be a very good move, indeed. This kind of long-term vision is severely lacking in many companies, such as the aforementioned, which couldn’t hold to the game-plan long enough to see the rewards. On the other hand, BASF has been around for nearly 150 years, so long-term vision is intrinsic to the company’s success.
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