China is so dominant in the market for the batteries powering electric vehicles and green tech that it would take a technological upheaval to change that. One might be coming, but Beijing isn’t asleep at the wheel.


With a booming electric-vehicle market at home, Chinese battery makers are the giants of the industry. In the first four months of this year, just two companies from the country—Contemporary Amperex Technology, or CATL, and BYD—already have more than half of the global EV battery market between them, according to SNE Research. More crucially, Chinese manufacturers also dominate the supply chain for battery materials. China accounted for nearly 90% of cathode active material capacity globally and more than 97% for anodes, according to the International Energy Agency.

由于国内电动汽车市场蓬勃发展,中国的电池制造商成为了该行业的巨头。根据 SNE Research 的数据,在今年的前四个月,仅来自中国的两家公司——宁德时代和比亚迪,就已经占据了全球电动汽车电池市场的一半以上份额。更关键的是,中国制造商还主导着电池材料的供应链。据国际能源署称,中国在全球阴极活性材料产能中占近 90%,在阳极方面则超过 97%。

For countries such as the U.S. that wish to break China’s dominance in the automotive and power technology of the future, the only hope would be a scientific breakthrough that could rejig the battery supply chain with different materials and components. New technology wouldn’t replace existing lithium-ion batteries, which have been around for five decades, but could provide alternative options.


There are a few potential candidates. Sodium-ion batteries look like the most viable alternative, but CATL and BYD have already massively ramped up their capacity. More than 90% of new supply announced through 2030 will come from China, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. That is despite the fact that the utilization rate of sodium battery plants is still fairly low.

有几个潜在的候选技术。钠离子电池看起来是最可行的替代品,但宁德时代和比亚迪已经大幅提高了其产能。根据基准矿物情报(Benchmark Mineral Intelligence)的数据,到 2030年新增供应的 90%多将来自中国。尽管事实上钠离子电池厂的利用率仍然相当低。

Another option to boost energy density is to replace graphite anodes with silicon, making batteries lighter and able to store more energy. That could potentially challenge China’s dominance in graphite. Japan’s Panasonic 6752 -0.11%decrease; red down pointing triangle said this past year it would purchase silicon anode materials from U.K. startup Nexeon. U.S. startup Group 14, backed by Microsoft MSFT -0.08%decrease; red down pointing triangle and Porsche, also has a joint venture with Korean battery maker SK Group. Benchmark expects silicon anode capacity to more than triple this year.

日本的松下在去年表示将从英国初创公司 Nexeon 购买硅阳极材料。得到微软和保时捷支持的美国初创公司 Group 14 也与韩国电池制造商 SK 集团建立了合资企业。基准公司(Benchmark)预计今年硅阳极产能将增长两倍以上。

And China isn’t sleeping on this opportunity. Beijing will provide 6 billion yuan, equivalent to nearly $830 million, to companies including CATL and BYD to research and develop solid-state batteries, according to domestic media. EV maker NIO NIO -2.27%decrease; red down pointing triangle said it plans to produce cars using semisolid state technology, which might still contain liquid electrolytes.

中国没有放过这个机会。据国内媒体报道,中国政府将向包括宁德时代和比亚迪在内的公司提供 60 亿元人民币,相当于近 8.3 亿美元,用于研究和开发固态电池。电动汽车制造商蔚来(NIO)表示,它打算用半固态技术来生产汽车,这种技术可能还是含有液态电解质。

China’s battery supremacy looks secure for now, but new technology could throw in a wild card for Western companies seeking to catch up.