Solid State Cells - Will Composite & Steel outpace Aluminum in Battery Tray Material?

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According to a recent finalized study executed by AluMag 43% of all NEVs [New Energy Vehicles  = Electrified Vehicles such as BEV and PHEV] produced in China are fitted with an aluminum tray [lower part of the battery housing]. Thereof 36% has an extruded aluminum while 7% has a cast aluminum tray. The remaining 57% are fitted with steel trays. AluMag forecast the NEV penetration in China to grow from 2.5% in 2017 to 32% in 2030. With about 10 million NEVs forecasted to be sold by 2030 in China the aluminum demand [Extrusion & Cast] is expected to grow with a CAGR of 28% between 2017 & 2030.

About 50% of the Chinese NEV market currently consist of A & B segment cars where aluminum rarely is utilized for the battery tray. As the production of E-Segment cars in China is very low in terms of volume the bulk demand for battery trays are used in the C & D segment NEVs. Today foreign OEMs only account for about 2% of NEVs being produced in China.

Many suppliers of cast and extruded aluminum are betting big on battery trays. 
But future material & battery technologies could have the potential to influence the demand for aluminum within this segment. Several OEMs are planning to introduce electric vehicles with solid state batteries around 2025 to 2030 at the latest with a significant stake. These batteries are promising longer range and shorter charging times, solving two of the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles to reach mass markets, or at least partly. An improvement in range and charging time will undoubtedly result in a higher penetration of NEVs but not necessarily for extruded and cast aluminum battery trays. Solid state batteries does not require cooling/heating like todays lithium batteries and are less likely to catch fire. It results further in less crash protection structures such as double side rocker and the massive battery housing which is needed for lithium batteries. New battery housings are therefore likely to utilize other design / materials / processes. Composite already has a relatively high penetration within battery covers.

Further threats against aluminum are newly developed processes and grades of AHSS. AHSS has the potential to significantly outperform aluminum for future battery trays as a result of steel performance flexibility, lower cost, light weighting capability, safety / collision performance, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and superior recyclability.

In course of the study AluMag Automotive analyzed 81 of the world`s most popular NEVs. 44 Chinese models [Models produced in China] as well as 37 foreign models [Models produced in Europe, USA, Japan & Korea]. In terms of the aluminum penetration 55% of all analyzed Chinese models featured an aluminum battery tray compared to 58% for the foreign produced models.

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