Cobalt Price Hit A New High, Power Battery Profit Margin Is Gradually Devour

- Oct 09, 2019-

The price of cobalt has reached a new high. The domestic metal cobalt price has risen by about 97%, and the profit margin of the power battery industry has been squeezed. The following is the content of the small series that brings about a new high in the price of cobalt, and the profit margin of the power battery industry has been squeezed. I hope that everyone can gain something!

Recently, a message about "the price of cobalt has reached a new high" has touched the nerves of the entire power battery industry.

According to statistics, in 2017 domestic metal cobalt prices rose by about 97%. At the same time, as of the end of December 2017, the price of cobalt on the London Metal Exchange rose to $75,205/ton, a price increase of over 130% from the beginning of the year. Cobalt, which is an important raw material for power batteries, has become the largest upstream metal.

“The way to reduce costs directly by automakers is to reduce the cost of purchasing power batteries. The price of upstream materials from lithium carbonate to cobalt has been rising, and the profit margin of power batteries is being swallowed up a little bit.” China Chemical and Physical Power Industry Association Secretary-General Liu Yanlong told reporters.

Cobalt price is high

Why can metal cobalt be used to move the whole body?

At present, one of the main factors limiting the development of the new energy automobile industry is the short battery life range caused by insufficient battery energy density. The ternary cathode material containing cobalt has a great advantage in energy density compared with the conventional cathode material, so cobalt is regarded as the key to solving the "mileage anxiety".

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, in 2017, the production and sales of new energy vehicles in China reached 794,000 and 777,000, respectively, up 53.8% and 53.3% year-on-year. The industry expects that the production and sales scale in 2018 is expected to exceed 1 million. It is foreseeable that the huge demand for cobalt in new energy vehicles in the future will provide medium and long-term support for the rise in cobalt prices.

In Liu Yanlong's view, the rise in raw material prices will compress the living space of power battery companies from two aspects: on the one hand, the energy density of power batteries continues to rise, the threshold for products entering the market is raised, and the survival of the fittest between enterprises is accelerated; on the other hand, the cost is reduced. Becoming the trend of the times, the price reduction pressure is gradually transmitted to the upstream, and the power battery is gradually changing from a profiteering industry to a low-profit industry.

Tan Xinxin, deputy dean of Hunan Shanshan Energy Technology Co., Ltd., said that the premise of cost reduction is quality assurance. "The practice of lowering the price and lowering the quality requirements has potential safety hazards and can only guarantee the quality foundation. In the above, the industry chain is used to reduce costs.” Tan Xinxin believes that the rising price of raw materials will force enterprises to strengthen their technological breakthroughs. Only in-depth basic research, cutting-edge research and joint technology development with downstream enterprises are the leading companies in research and development. Important Guarantee.

Sun Yonggang, deputy secretary-general of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association Cobalt Industry Branch, analyzed that the rise in cobalt prices is basically within expectations. China is a cobalt-poor country with an import dependency of over 90%. From the current situation, cobalt prices are likely to rise and fall. . In addition, the supply and demand of the cobalt city is tight, and the suspension of quotations by many companies also makes it difficult for the power battery industry to “cobalt”.

Overcapacity

In addition to rising raw material prices, the power battery industry is also facing the problem of overcapacity. According to the latest data from the China Chemical and Physical Power Industry Association Power Battery Application Branch, the installed capacity of China's new energy vehicle power battery reached 37.06GWH in 2017, which was higher than expected. In 2017, the annual production capacity of the battery industry reached 200 billion yuan, and the excess capacity of power batteries reached 157%.

Overcapacity has led to an increase in the concentration of the power battery industry, and first-tier companies in the industry have gradually eroded market share through technological advantages. It is understood that the first five companies in 2017 will have a total of 22.343 billion WH, accounting for 60.5%. The top 20 enterprises will have a matching capacity of 32.09 billion WH, accounting for 87%. At the same time, the low-end production capacity of second- and third-tier enterprises is facing the crisis of being eliminated. Fang Kaizheng, director of the Power Battery Industry Development Research Office of China Automotive Technology and Research Center, said that in terms of the number of supporting enterprises, compared with 150 in 2016, 2017 The number of companies has decreased significantly, with less than 100 companies.

Liu Yanlong believes that in the future, the new energy vehicles and power battery industry will be concentrated in a few large enterprises. For other new energy auto companies and power battery companies with different production capacity, the future market competition will be even more cruel.

In the face of the industry crisis caused by overcapacity, power battery companies choose to be cautious. "We are planning according to the market, how many orders are on hand, and planning how many production lines." Long Huijin, chairman and president of Tafel New Energy Technology, told reporters that "the company must expand steadily and will not blindly go." It’s bigger, more conservative, and more conservative. It’s a prerequisite to make money.”

“Whether it is to integrate various resources with upstream and downstream enterprises, or to reorganize with large enterprises, or to enter other more market segments, vehicle companies need to adjust, and power battery companies need to adjust.” Liu Yanlong further said that enterprises should be proactive. Transforming the development mode, from capacity expansion to quality improvement.

Survival of the fittest

The country’s subsidies for new energy vehicles have gradually declined, which has become an inevitable trend.

"In 2017, for China's power battery industry, we can use 'ups and downs' to describe the subsidy and the release of new subsidy policies, which shattered the hotbed of policy." Liu Yanlong said, "The power battery industry has entered a market transition period. The cruel trend of industry competition began to emerge."

For the power battery industry, the upstream is squeezed by the price hike of raw materials, and the downstream is subject to the price reduction brought by the subsidies of the whole vehicle companies. How to transform it becomes a difficult problem.

When it comes to transformation, battery manufacturers say that they are “crossing the river by feeling the stones”. The core issue at the moment is how to make products. Long Huijin said, "The impact of the policy on the industry is significant. As a battery manufacturer, the pressure is not small. I think the best way to resist competition is to do a good job of technology and to make the products better and meet the needs of users." CTO, the CTO of Energy Technology Co., Ltd., also said, "From the battery companies themselves, it is the most important thing to do things steadily."

In the next step, in order to integrate China's power battery industry, improve the development level and clarify the development goals, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Action Plan for Promoting the Development of Automotive Power Battery Industry. According to the plan, the next step will be to strengthen the basic research of the new system power battery, vigorously promote the development and industrialization of the new lithium-ion power battery, guarantee the supply of high-quality power batteries by 2018, and realize technological change and development test in 2025.

It can be seen that the current power battery industry is in the stage of tackling the transition from high-speed growth to high-quality growth. In this regard, Fang Kaizhen believes that any stage of industry development is inseparable from the government's policy guidance. “The development of new energy vehicles depends not only on the technological advancement and reliability of products, but also on the support of top-level design policies and open innovation in government management,” Fang Kaizheng said.