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Thread: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

  1. #1

    Default Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    There's a ton of talk lately from analysts about a potential huge li-ion shortage based on the electric car industry ramping up. GM is looking at building a factory in TN in partnership with LG. I'm assuming more will come in the future.

    Do you think this will affect the availability for us? Specifically 18650. Do any cars even use 18650 anymore? Even if they don't, I suppose that could still affect us depending on where their resources and production are focused.
    GOOD TINT!

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by markr6 View Post
    There's a ton of talk lately from analysts about a potential huge li-ion shortage based on the electric car industry ramping up. GM is looking at building a factory in TN in partnership with LG. I'm assuming more will come in the future.

    Do you think this will affect the availability for us? Specifically 18650. Do any cars even use 18650 anymore? Even if they don't, I suppose that could still affect us depending on where their resources and production are focused.
    I think it depends on what battery size they are wanting for these cars. If they go with 18650 which is probably less likely instead of 21700 or larger then we could see shortage and some price hikes in the market but if they go with 21700 that would mainly affect that size. What could be concerning is the chemical/metal market related in liithium ion batteries altogether if there is a shortage in the market on materials that could affect everything. I suspect the shortage in 21700 batteries could affect tool battery prices of the higher Ah batteries in the market. Maybe they could figure a way to replace an 18650 battery setup with 21700 or larger when they wear out but I'm not sure that would entail a larger cost than it may be worth as the wiring and connection and management/charging may not work without drastic changes and replacement of substantial circuitry.
    I think the 18650 market has a lot more capacity for now than 21700 and larger batteries and I think that car makers will follow the lead of others into larger cells essentially 18650 isn't going to be the "common" battery in newer vehicles from now on. I personally think that 21700 may not be nearly as widespread and popular as 18650 is now as they may end up moving to yet another cell size quickly thus 21700 instead of being a stopping place will only be a temporary step on the way to larger and larger batteries.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    IMO... warning, lengthy post.

    Back during the last major US auto bailouts a statement that should have gotten more attention than it did talked about Chinese demand... although surges in African and South American demand might not be seen for decades (that's another story)... The exec basically stated that US manufacturers (in this case autos) were a significant boon to US GDP, based on the potential of the skyrocketing Chinese economy. In the US and other (economically) established countries the market for things like cars was already saturated. In China the majority of the country did not have cars, but were soon able to afford them. Therefore this was a high priority market which a strong foothold would be important... IIRC, GM and Wrigley gum had grandfathered in some business rights in China that other US companies did not have. Since then we've seen businesses fall over backwards to enter the Chinese market, although many started seeing the problem with the 51% required ownership of Chinese Nationals to enter that market. Additionally, Chinese governmental allowances for certain types of manufacturing qualifying for a 15% income tax rate further complicates returning that $$$ to the US (repatriation)... although historically it was Hong Kong that had the low income taxes.

    Similarly, copper and steel have been gobbled up by China for the last few years, although I think it was more related to the governmental push for the now coined "ghost cities" rather than true free-market demand within the country. China increased production because of it's own needs. Recent US news articles have stated that China has become the largets market for electric vehicles, surpassing EU countries. Therefore, I think many of the newer styles, designs, and functions in some of the newer electric car offerings might not be fully understood or appreciated by Western standards.

    Considering the production of Li and Li rechargeables in country, I think it more likely that we see a price increase as flashlight enthusiasts. It would be in China's best interest to boost production for both internal consumption as well as export. After all, significant increases in money supply can happen when foreigners throw their money at a country or city, sort of like why European cities spend so much on maintenance of their historic buildings (tourist $$$), or why local cities lend moeny to sports teams to build arenas. Here's a link to Li production by country: https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/fea...ing-countries/

    Political conflict between Australia and China might have been a temporary reprieve from the price increases we might have already been seeing. Additionally, this might fuel R&D for either increasing older battery tech, or alternative chemistries (among alternative energy storage media). Anyone interested in a biodiesel flashlight? :P
    Last edited by Scotty321; 03-04-2021 at 11:46 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    I don't think there will be a shortage. After all, we are talking about a very small number of cells compared to what electromotive and computer industries consume. Divide this (small number) among cell sizes and respective manufacturers and it will be almost negligible, What may affect availability, however IMO, is tightening the restrictions and control on distribution and end-sales of loose, unprotected cells. We have seen some moves in this direction lately.

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by NiOOH View Post
    I don't think there will be a shortage. After all, we are talking about a very small number of cells compared to what electromotive and computer industries consume. Divide this (small number) among cell sizes and respective manufacturers and it will be almost negligible, What may affect availability, however IMO, is tightening the restrictions and control on distribution and end-sales of loose, unprotected cells. We have seen some moves in this direction lately.
    As long as new battery powered vehicles follow the current trend of larger lithium cells I agree as IMO the now major market discounting electric car batteries is power tools and to a minor extent power banks and rechargeable devices and some of these are now using larger than 18650 batteries like tool batteries. I think that if the 21700 becomes the primary electric car battery and with power tools now going to the larger batteries it could be that we have a tightening, even shortage of cells. I think also we have electric mowers using lithium ion and likely they will be mostly using the larger cells if possible without redesigning the motor to fit them due to their larger size.
    I think what does intrigue some people is in the future a new "standard" size considerably larger than 18650/21700 that could make it interesting as for some devices 1 of these larger cells could be as powerful as several smaller ones making for different designs and in some ways slightly cheaper manufacturing cost perhaps with more power. Unless they "do away" with gas powered cars entirely I imagine a possible phasing out of lead acid car batteries if they can get a lithium chemistry that can take the abuse of starting and charging often.

    Imagine a lithium ion battery that is "safe" from a lot of problems normal batteries have in use the size of a large can of beans in place of your car battery in smaller cars.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post

    Imagine a lithium ion battery that is "safe" from a lot of problems normal batteries have in use the size of a large can of beans in place of your car battery in smaller cars.
    Actually, emergency Li-based starter packs already exist. I don't think safety is a problem. Multiple safety devices can be incorporated into a starter battery (like in an electric vehicle). The main problem is price. A Pb starter car battery costs 30-60 $/Euro and almost all of its active material is recycled at least once. LiIon or LiPo pack of the same power (12 V/50-60 Ah) will cost at least twice as much. Yes, it will be half the size and 1/4 of the weight of the typical Pb car battery, but would require a different charging circuit in the car. For the average end user, this will not be considered advantageous. He/she would have to pay much more for the battery just knowing that the car weights 10 kg less.
    Last edited by NiOOH; 03-09-2021 at 04:37 PM.

  7. #7
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by NiOOH View Post
    Actually, emergency Li-based starter packs already exist. I don't think safety is a problem. Multiple safety devices can be incorporated into a starter battery (like in an electric vehicle). The main problem is price. A Pb starter car battery costs 30-60 $/Euro and almost all of its active material is recycled at least once. LiIon or LiPo pack of the same power (12 V/50-60 Ah) will cost at least twice as much. Yes, it will be half the size and 1/4 of the weight of the typical Pb car battery, but would require a different charging circuit in the car. For the average end user, this will not be considered advantageous. He/she would have to pay much more for the battery just knowing that the car weights 10 kg less.
    Yes I know all of that but it is one thing to have a pack that starts a car now and then another that starts it 20 times a day and powers all the electrical systems while charging constantly to keep from being discharged too much. I think cooling the pack could also be an issue in an engine compartment also I believe lithium ion doesn't like being very cold it starts having issues around freezing temps. I believe even some electric cars have lead acid batteries in them because lithium ion isn't the end all.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    No problem with starting many times a day if kept properly charged. Cold, to at least -10-15 C shouldn't be much of a problem for LiIon either, at least not more than with Pb batts. LiPos can be used for even lower temperatures. LiPos, actually have a better low temperature performance than any rechargeable chemistry, Pb-acid included. The only problem is the price. Would you pay 150 bucks for a car starter battery that wouldn't last you longer than the one you have now?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    They can't get enough computer chips to make the cars as is. Tesla had a fire at a factory that damaged a key piece of equipment that made the entire bottom of their electric cars out of one piece of metal. These bottlenecks will slow things down and lessen the need for batteries for now. But just wait until they start needing all the batteries to run the new green power grid. The more electric cars taking power from the grid, the more grid power we'll need to run them. Green energy like solar and wind requires energy storage (batteries) unlike coal, nuclear, and natural gas they are trying to replace.

  10. #10
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    I think it depends on what battery size they are wanting for these cars. If they go with 18650 which is probably less likely instead of 21700 or larger then we could see shortage and some price hikes in the market but if they go with 21700 that would mainly affect that size. What could be concerning is the chemical/metal market related in liithium ion batteries altogether if there is a shortage in the market on materials that could affect everything. I suspect the shortage in 21700 batteries could affect tool battery prices of the higher Ah batteries in the market. Maybe they could figure a way to replace an 18650 battery setup with 21700 or larger when they wear out but I'm not sure that would entail a larger cost than it may be worth as the wiring and connection and management/charging may not work without drastic changes and replacement of substantial circuitry.
    I think the 18650 market has a lot more capacity for now than 21700 and larger batteries and I think that car makers will follow the lead of others into larger cells essentially 18650 isn't going to be the "common" battery in newer vehicles from now on. I personally think that 21700 may not be nearly as widespread and popular as 18650 is now as they may end up moving to yet another cell size quickly thus 21700 instead of being a stopping place will only be a temporary step on the way to larger and larger batteries.
    Unless you're an automaker whose name ends with "-esla" you don't care about cylindrical cells - you work with the likes of LG Chem to produce bespoke prismatic or pouch cells built to your specifications so your battery pack BOM has hundreds rather than thousands of cells.

    A significant rise in demand for li- chemistry cells could pinch upstream supply chains, however.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  11. #11
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Unless you're an automaker whose name ends with "-esla" you don't care about cylindrical cells - you work with the likes of LG Chem to produce bespoke prismatic or pouch cells built to your specifications so your battery pack BOM has hundreds rather than thousands of cells.

    A significant rise in demand for li- chemistry cells could pinch upstream supply chains, however.
    We will just have to wait and see, if the Dems start throwing money overtime at this green initiative and for some insane reason gas powered vehicles are made illegal then we will need billions of tons of lithium batteries and maybe research with nearlyl infinite money (trillions) will have a breakthrough in the battery tech field, we can only hope.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    We will just have to wait and see, if the Dems start throwing money overtime at this green initiative and for some insane reason gas powered vehicles are made illegal then we will need billions of tons of lithium batteries and maybe research with nearlyl infinite money (trillions) will have a breakthrough in the battery tech field, we can only hope.
    I think they'll eventually backtrack on the demand for a totally green power grid when they realize how many people will die during extreme heat and cold that the batteries and solar (snow) don't work in, they run out of raw materials to make batteries, solar panels, and wind generators, or they have to dispose of all the materials after a decade or two with no landfill space to put it. They may run out of everyone's money long before the green grid becomes a reality. Personally, I hate the government telling the electric companies they have to put all their eggs in one basket. Not only does it make the grid unreliable and an easier target for sabotage, but it makes electricity more expensive and monopolies more likely. If you think they're doing it to save the planet, then I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you. It's more likely politicians have lobbyists telling them to pass laws forcing you to buy their products so they can get rich. When they mandate that everyone has to buy the same thing, innovation takes a back seat to profits. Don't expect things to get better, cheaper, and more available when everyone has to have it and alternatives are made illegal.

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Car battery shortage = shortage for flashaholics?

    A wee bit off topic here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    for some insane reason gas powered vehicles are made illegal
    I'm quite confident such a mandate isn't in the cards any time soon - even a de facto mandate vis-à-vis efficiency and pollution standards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    we will need billions of tons of lithium batteries
    Stationary applications are likely to turn away from li-ion - and even LifEPO4 batteries - for reasons of cost and cycle life. Utility-scale storage - be they to flatten production-demand curve mismatches ala what pumped hydro has done for decades or buffer output from intermittent sources - will likely either turn to new lower-cost/longer cycle-life battery technology, kinetic storage (such as ARES), Liquid Air Energy Storage, compressed air, etc.

    The big li-ion/LiFePO4 banks may maintain a niche for frequency-regulation purposes - something they excel at since they can respond in milliseconds to fluctuations in demand while generators throttle up or down, but for bulk storage I suspect they'll be superseded by other technologies.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 03-14-2021 at 10:44 PM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

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