NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As electric car trends continue to move forward into 2011, investors want to know what's in store for makers of the rechargeable batteries that will be powering them.
The rising stars of the rechargeable battery space have, of course, been light-weight, but energy-dense lithium batteries are expected to experience a growing adoption rate in the global push for fuel economy.
According to Wunderlich analyst Theo O'Neill, for lithium batteries to penetrate a meaningful fraction of the world's car market,
prices need to fall by about 50%. He estimates this will occur in 2014, or when the industry has produced more than 50 million individual battery cells, or 150,000 electric cars.
"The lithium battery business could become very large depending on the market's acceptance of electric cars and hybrids, how quickly battery costs can be lowered and the extent of government subsidies," O'Neill says. In one instance of electric car acceptance, General Motors (GM - Get Report) has now raised its planned production rate of plug-in hybrid electric Chevrolet Volts to 60,000 a year by 2012, from the initial planned production rate of 30,000 a year, according to D.A. Davidson analyst Avinash Kant, who cites industry sources in an equity research report. General Electric (GE - Get Report) recently announced that it will buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015, almost half of them from GM, including the 2011 Chevy Volt.Read on for a sense of where a handful of lithium battery stocks that popped in 2010 are going as we enter 2011.