Lead-Battery Demand for Cars to Rise 2.6% on China, India

Global demand for lead-acid batteries may rise 2.6 percent this year amid increased car sales in China, India and Southeast Asia, said an executive at GS Yuasa Corp., the world’s third-biggest producer.

Demand for car batteries will rise to 390 million units from 380 million in 2010, Hiroharu Nakano, general manager at the Kyoto, Japan-based company, said in an interview yesterday. GS Yuasa forecast demand will climb to 400 million units in 2012.

Johnson Controls Inc. and Exide Technologies, both based in the U.S., are the biggest producers. GS Yuasa has a 7 percent share in the automotive battery market and has partnerships with Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. to make lithium-ion power cells for electric and hybrid cars.

“Demand from China, India and Southeast Asian nations has been leading global growth and this will continue for the time being,” Nakano said in Tokyo. Battery demand for new vehicles has increased in those countries, while worldwide replacement demand has risen moderately, he said.

In 2010, actual demand was expected to exceed the company’s forecast of 380 million units by about 5 million units following higher-than-expected car sales in China and other emerging markets, he said.

China’s vehicle sales will grow 10 percent to 15 percent this year after jumping 32 percent to 18.06 million vehicles in 2010, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers forecast.

China Demand

Demand in China will increase 9 percent to 49 million units in 2011 and then 54 million units in 2012, while consumption in India may climb to 14.5 million units in 2011 and then 16 million in 2012 from 13 million last year, Nakano said.

Lead for immediate delivery was little changed at $2,499 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange at 4:28 p.m. in Tokyo. The price has gained 16 percent in the past year, touching $2,712.75 on Jan. 6, the highest level since May 2008.

Demand for lithium-ion batteries will jump to 3.8 million cells in 2015 from 1 million cells in 2012, he said.

Nakano said the lead-acid battery market will not be affected by growing demand for lithium-ion cells. Battery demand for new idling-stop systems, which consume more lead, has also been increasing, he said.

GS Yuasa plans to produce 30 million units this year, up from 28 million units last year, and 32 million in 2012, Nakano said. The company produces about 70 percent of these overseas.

The company plans to increase its share in China to 11 percent or 6 million units in 2012 from 9 percent or 3.8 million units in 2009. It also expects to raise its share in Southeast Asia to 45 percent or 9.4 million units from 43 percent or 7.5 million units in 2009, and 10 percent or 1.6 million in India from 5 percent or 0.6 million.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jae Hur in Tokyo at jhur1@bloomberg.net; Ichiro Suzuki in Tokyo at isuzuki@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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