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German battery market growth driven by on lithium-ion demand: ZVEI

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s electronics industry saw a strong increase in the battery market last year, spurred by demand for lithium-ion batteries for electric cars in a wider roll-out aimed at cutting carbon emissions in transport, data showed on Tuesday.

“Lithium-ion batteries are the key technology for the market launch of electric mobility,” industry association ZVEI said, adding turnover in this segment had risen eightfold since 2013.

The overall battery market grew by 17% to 4.2 billion euros ($4.75 billion) in 2019, with the lithium-ion segment rising by 21% to 1.6 billion euros.

Lithium-ion batteries are also used in medical equipment, smartphones, power tools and electric bikes.

The overall market had kept up momentum in January and February, but due to the coronavirus crisis had sagged since, the head of ZVEI’s battery unit, Christian Eckert, said in a call with reporters.

It was too early to try and forecast anticipated business in 2020, he added.

ZVEI said that most lithium-ion cells were imported from Asia to be turned into final battery products in Germany, which is now seeking to establish a more comprehensive production chain at home.

The government supports this goal and private companies such as PSA Group have plans for domestic plants.

Demand for lead acid batteries fell by 14% to 940 million in 2019, ZVEI noted, adding this was exacerbated by a weak car industry, which uses them for example in the supply of onboard systems.

But more demand for these batteries in emergency medical care and data centres should be supportive, ZVEI said.

Turnover in other segments, comprising of zinc-air, lithium button-cell batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries, put together, increased by 40% to 1.7 billion.

Zinc-air batteries are used in hearing aids and the others by railway operators.

Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Edward Taylor

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