Honda and Stellantis made progress on their EV ambition in North America, respectively. The Japan-based automaker broke ground on the joint battery plant with LG Energy Solution in Ohio. Stellantis announced a plan to make new electric drive modules (EDM) in Indiana, the US.
Taiwan's government announced a plan to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2040. The high population density could make Taiwan a world leader in the frequency and efficiency of charging infrastructure, not to mention numerous EV charging solution providers from the silicon island. Nonetheless, Taiwan is still a long way off its 7,500 charging points by 2025, far fewer than 700,000 in China, 500,000 in the United States, and 3.5 million in Europe. Why?
Delta Electronics said on Feb 23 that its EV business – on-board chargers and battery management systems, will get even better this year, after announcing improved financial results for last year. Chairman Yancey Hai said at the latest earnings call that "availability of materials and components has much recovered" but there is still "a little bit of a shortage of some MCU and MOSFET."
Powering EVs with sodium-ion batteries seems to get closer to reality in China. Local carmaker SOL and battery manufacturer Hina Battery Technology unveiled a test vehicle equipped with sodium-ion batteries on February 23. The car came with a driving range of 252 kilometers.
LTO (lithium titanate oxide) and high-nickel ternary pouch battery cell ODM GUS Technology has invested NT$4.0 billion (US$132 million) to set up a factory with annual production capacity of 1GWh in northern Taiwan, with completion scheduled for the end of April 2023, according to company chairman Chang Chung-chieh.
Mainstream solar cell technology is expected to shift from PERC (passivated emitter and rear cell) to TOPCon (tunnel oxide passivated contact) in 2023, and this is likely to pose challenges to Taiwan-based solar cell makers.
After an interim high in 2021, polysilicon imports into China dropped again in 2022, says Germany-based Bernreuter Research. According to Chinese customs statistics, imports of the feedstock for solar cells slumped by 23% from 114,203 metric tons (MT) in 2021 to 88,093 MT in 2022.
"Following the severe polysilicon shortage in 2021, the ramp-up of new production capacities in China already left its mark on import volumes in 2022," says Johannes Bernreuter, head of Bernreuter Research. Using preliminary production estimates, the market analyst puts China's share in the global output of solar-grade polysilicon at 88% in 2022, up from 82% in 2021 and 55% in 2017.
Compared to their peak of 158,918 MT in 2017, annual polysilicon imports into China have nearly halved. They are now close to the level of 2012 when they reached 82,760 MT.
The strongest decline in 2022 was seen in imports from Japan. In 2021 Japanese solar module producer Sharp obviously off-loaded large volumes of polysilicon inventory after the company's long-term purchase contract with Hemlock Semiconductor expired in 2020. That drove up imports from Japan to a record high of 15,431 MT in 2021, thus filling the supply gap in China; in 2022, however, imports plummeted by 60% to 6,129 MT.
A similar development occurred in Taiwan, where former producers of solar wafers are still selling polysilicon stocks they own from long-term contracts into China. Imports from Taiwan dropped by 50% from 6,899 MT in 2021 to 3,480 MT.
The Malaysian polysilicon subsidiary of South Korean chemicals group OCI also exported significantly less to China – the volumes went down by 23% from 29,727 MT to 22,944 MT. This, however, was mainly due to longer-than-expected maintenance works at OCI's factory in spring.
Imports from Germany's Wacker, the largest foreign polysilicon supplier to China, decreased by 6.3% from 51,316 MT to 48,070 MT. U.S.-based Hemlock Semiconductor, which is impeded by high Chinese anti-dumping duties, reduced its volumes from 4,811 MT to 2,785 MT.
In the case of Wacker and Hemlock, the reason for the decline has to be searched for outside China. Both polysilicon manufacturers have concluded sales contracts with Jinko Solar, the world's second largest module supplier; Jinko started up a new wafer factory with an annual production capacity of 7 GW in Vietnam in early 2022.
Trina Solar is the next major Chinese module producer that will open a wafer factory in Vietnam. "With the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that bans products from Xinjiang and the anti-circumvention decision against solar modules produced with Chinese wafers in Southeast Asia, the United States are driving the demand for solar panels made of polysilicon and wafers not coming from China," explains Bernreuter. "At the same time, polysilicon imports into China will shrink further in view of the massive domestic capacity expansion. Consequently, the future of non-Chinese polysilicon feedstock lies outside China."
Within the Taiwan EV supply chain's five major sectors including components and end charging pile products, there are around 20 firms running businesses such as exporting products to markets abroad and providing services locally and they are expected to see enormous business opportunities in the upcoming years thanks to governments worldwide pushing to end gasoline car sales, according to DIGITIMES Research's latest study on the EV charging pile industry.
LG Energy Solution made progress in gaining a global presence. The South Korean battery maker announced a non-binding memorandum of understanding on February 21 with Ford and Turkish conglomerate Koc Holding. The trio will jointly build a battery plant in Turkey, aiming to start production in 2026.
Uber and India-based Tata Motors announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on February 20. Tata will supply Uber with 25,000 EVs in India starting in this month, facilitating the ride-hailing service company's effort to electrify its global fleets by 2040.
The electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain is bracing for a potential price war as a result of Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) reportedly offering lithium cost rebates to specific customers with which it has strategic ties.
South Korea-based research firm SNE Research recently released an analysis of non-Chinese global EV battery usage in 2022. LG Energy Solution topped the list again with a market share of 29.7%, maintaining a comfortable lead from CATL, the first runner-up.