Lithium-ion Batteries For The Chinese Electric Bike Market

- Feb 28, 2018-

China has been experiencing a rapid increase in battery-powered personal transportation since the late 1990s due to the strong growth of the electric bike and scooter (i.e. e-bike) market. Annual sales in China reached 17 million bikes year−1 in 2006. E-bike growth has been in part due to improvements in rechargeable valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery technology, the primary battery type for e-bikes. Further improvements in technology and a transition from VRLA to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries will impact the future market growth of this transportation mode in China and abroad.

Battery performance and cost for these two types are compared to assess the feasibility of a shift from VRLA to Li-ion battery e-bikes. The requirements for batteries used in e-bikes are assessed. A widespread shift from VRLA to Li-ion batteries seems improbable in the near future for the mass market given the cost premium relative to the performance advantages of Li-ion batteries. As both battery technologies gain more real-world use in e-bike applications, both will improve. Cell variability is a key problematic area to be addressed with VRLA technology. For Li-ion technology, safety and cost are the key problem areas which are being addressed through the use of new cathode materials.