By Dave Brown - Exclusive to Lithium Investing News A report from Pike Research indicates China will be firmly positioned as the leading market for electric vehicles (EV) in the Asia Pacific region within the next 4 years. For lithium industry stakeholders and observers the bullish report suggests that the growing Chinese market will contribute to almost 50 percent of the territory's aggregate sales by 2015. China is focusing a major priority in developing battery electric vehicles amidst increasing inflationary costs for oil products and the need to improve air quality in urban areas. With more than 150 finished automobile manufacturers China possesses one of the largest automotive industries in the world. Recognizing that Japan already has obtained a significant economic moat as a leader in the hybrid plug-in category, a concentration on pure electric vehicles might be a catalyst for that overall market segment. The report suggests that the market for hybrid plug-in models will grow at a compound annual growth rate of less than 10 percent over the next 4 years; the Chinese market may experience a robust growth for battery electric vehicles of more than 40 percent over the same time period. With battery electric vehicle sales in China approximately 33,000 units, the total is forecasted to climb to 554,000 over the next 4 years. Senior Analyst Andy Bae for the global clean technology market research firm explained “China, where around 55 vendors are developing electrified vehicles or launching EV development programs, will likely create and lead an entirely new category around clean transportation. The country will become one of the biggest consumer markets for EVs, and global industry players want to enter this market to tap the related opportunities.” Developments from Japan Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) may produce electric vehicles in China next year, in order to meet the criteria for generous domestic government subsidy programs from the Chinese administration. The Japan-based automobile manufacturer is expecting to test market the Fit electric vehicle in China by the end of this year. Last month Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE: TM) suggested it may directly participate in employing the Chinese automobile industry in order to reduce costs for the reintroduction of plug-in hybrid Prius models to extensive Chinese market. Lithium Energy Japan, the commercial partnership between GS Yuasa Corp (TSX: 6674), trading house Mitsubishi Corp (TSX: 8058) and Mitsubishi Motors (TSX: 7211), announced plans last week to build a lithium battery plant to boost production capacity by approximately 70 percent according to media reports. Capital expenditure for the new factory is expected to total approximately $7.8 billion and could anticipate a capacity of 4 million lithium battery cells a year, to supply power for 50,000 electric vehicles. Lithium Energy Japan currently supplies lithium battery units for Mitsubishi and Peugeot Citroen models. Lithium brine production may benefit from Brazil news With a nascent consumer market and a new tax policy that heavily favours the domestic production of automobiles, Brazil may be creating a strong opportunity for South American lithium brine producers.
Earlier this month Nissan (TSX: 7201) indicated that it plans to invest about $1.5 billion in a new factory as it intends to launch new compact models and expand its market share in Brazil. Although Nissan has not announced electric vehicle launches for the Brazilian market in the near future, proximity to an abundant supply of lithium and a direct foreign investment in the automotive industry are worth noting. Last week, a research report suggested consumers in Brazil could demonstrate better potential for electric vehicle adoption. The world's fifth largest car market still has considerable growth potential as automobile ownership in the United States is approximately 80 percent, however, in Brazil it is estimated at 25 percent.The Nissan announcement follows closely on a government tax policy to increase import tariffs on cars and trucks. The measures from mid September increase the industrialized products tax by 30 percentage points on vehicles that fail to meet local content standards. Securities Disclosure: I, Dave Brown, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. China to Lead in Electric Vehicle Market from Lithium Investing News