The layout of new energy industry clusters is moving faster and faster. Now, finally, we have reached the material realm.
In November, Huayu New Materials, a carbon fiber composite enterprise, received a financing of 10 million yuan, and in May this year, it obtained the first financing. It is reported that many new material companies are favored by automotive companies, which has led to the cooperation of many giants. Huayu has SAIC, Hongqi, Dongfeng, Xiaopeng, Weilai, Great Wall, Gaohe, Geely, etc
The new energy material industry chain is huge and rich, and the five basic sectors of rare earth, fluorine chemical industry, and lithium electricity have invigorated countless downstream enterprises. There are more than 90 new material and energy enterprises in Longyan City, Fujian Province alone, which is probably affected by the new energy atmosphere in the entire region. In 2021, the city’s new materials and energy industry achieved an output value of 41.64 billion yuan, an increase of 33.1%; In the first half of 2022, the output value was 28.47 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 32.9%.

In a specific field, the new material industry has had a good time in recent years. Take the most important carbon fiber in the goal of automobile weight reduction as an example. In 2021, five listed carbon fiber companies, including Guangwei Composite, Zhongjian Technology, Zhongfu Shenying, Jilin Carbon Valley and Hengshen, achieved comprehensive profits for the first time, and the localization rate of the carbon fiber industry gradually increased from 15% in 2015 to 47% in 2021.
There is no doubt that in the era of new energy, numerous industries are booming, and the same is true.
Why does new energy need “new materials”?
Since the last century, countless new materials have been applied to the automotive field, including hydrogen storage alloys, graphene, superconducting materials, superplastic alloys, silent metals, and memory alloys, which have accounted for a relatively high proportion of about 70%. In recent years, new materials have continuously entered the automotive process.
The demand for materials and standards in the new energy market are also going further and further along a strict standard line. It is not hard to guess that this tight supply phenomenon is actually not hard to guess. From traditional cars to new energy vehicles, the evolving process of manufacturing vehicles is gradually becoming more concrete with the requirements of the whole automotive consumption environment for cars in the later stage.
To this day, the changes of new energy vehicles are not only limited to the battery. The car building is approaching the next wave of technological boom, and every part of the car body is moving towards a lighter direction. Frankly speaking, the market heat of many new materials will not diminish until the problem of electric vehicle’s endurance is solved.
What can the application of new materials bring to new energy vehicles? The first is weight loss, which undoubtedly directly affects the endurance of the tram, especially in cold weather. Data shows that the charging time of electric vehicles in winter can even increase by 70%, while the battery life of electric vehicles can be reduced by 30% to 50% at a time when driving at low temperatures.
Battery issues were not optimized. It can only save the country and lose weight. The overall weight of electric vehicles is no less than that of traditional fuel vehicles. In particular, batteries, electric motors, and electronic controls have replaced the power system of traditional fuel vehicles. In many cases, the weight of the entire vehicle has increased.
According to media statistics, domestic electric passenger vehicles generally weigh 10% to 30% more than the global average weight of electric vehicles, and electric commercial vehicles generally weigh 10% to 15%. Specifically, the weight of the same model of the Regal GS owned by Geely, 220KG, is sufficient. This is another major challenge after the new energy market continues to evolve.
It has been evaluated by some institutions that every 10kg reduction in the weight of pure electric vehicles can increase the range by 2.5km. The battery and body weight reduction together constitute the top priority of the future new energy vehicle endurance. The preferred aluminum alloy, the most elastic magnesium alloy and the most ideal carbon fiber are all the favorites of the new automotive materials. Weilai Automobile used a carbon fiber reinforced plastic battery shell, which is 40% lighter than the traditional aluminum or steel battery shell, and its thermal conductivity is 200 times lower than that of aluminum.
It is reported that the density of carbon fiber is 1/2 of that of aluminum alloy, but its strength is 8 times that of aluminum alloy. Carbon fiber composite materials can reduce the weight of automotive battery boxes by more than 64%. Applying it to the chassis can even reduce weight by 40%. For each 10% reduction in vehicle weight, fuel consumption can be reduced by 6% to 8%, and emissions can be reduced by 5% to 6%. At the same fuel consumption, a car can travel more than 50 kilometers per hour.
The domestic automobile lightweight has long entered the scale market. Just the lightweight chassis, its growth rate will be as high as six times in six years, and the market scale will rise from 4.6 billion yuan in 2019 to 32 billion yuan in 2025; The market scale of aluminum battery box and subframe will be expanded to 18 billion yuan and 7.5 billion yuan at a rapid rate, with CAGR of 31% and 55% respectively.
In the future, all kinds of new materials will be out of control. This is not only a trend of the whole car building circle to actively fit, but also a foreshadowing of the new energy environment for car enterprises to plan ahead. For example, in the Road Map of Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicle Technology, it was mentioned that the proportion of carbon fiber in vehicle weight will reach 5% by 2030.
The fate of the car building circle has long been closely linked with the whole new material field, and the wind and grass in any corner may bring twists and turns to the former.
Cost “battle” of new materials
Of course, not every new energy vehicle enterprise can easily realize the freedom of new materials.
Because the cost, technology and capital barriers of most new materials are not very low, the application situation in the field of car building is seriously unbalanced. Take carbon fiber as an example, basically only luxury car or head car enterprises are put into use. At present, only 2% of domestic carbon fiber is used in the automobile industry, and even globally, the proportion of automobile application in this industry is less than 9%.
How expensive is it? The price of carbon fiber is generally 120-200 yuan/kg, that is to say, with the reliance on new materials in the field of automobile manufacturing, in order to make life easier in the future, the cost of new materials must be solved first. According to the plan, the cost of carbon fiber for automobile will be reduced by 50% in 2020, 2025 and 2030 compared with the previous stage.
If calculated based on this figure, the cost of carbon fiber will be 60-100 yuan/KG by 2025, and will be reduced to 30-50 yuan/KG by 2030. This price can be basically accepted by most automotive companies. The cost anxiety of new materials has always been accompanied by the popularity of applications. In addition to the automotive industry, information technology, biotechnology, new energy, green environmental protection, aerospace, marine equipment… these fields are also calling for nutrients.
It is undeniable that the cost source of new materials lies in technology and market. In fact, in recent years, domestic attention to new material research and development has gradually doubled in the pursuit of industrialization. According to the public data, the expert team of the Professional Committee of Automotive New Materials and Applications has been expanded to 42, including 22 from the main vehicle manufacturer, 6 from the parts assembly, 14 from university research institutes and other relevant institutions.
In terms of technology, attention has been paid to talent reserves, and R&D investment in leading enterprises has increased significantly. Taking Guangwei, a leading enterprise in the carbon fiber industry, as an example, its annual research and development expenditure is above 11%. The research and development investment in carbon fiber in the entire Weihai Port Area where Guangwei is located cannot be underestimated. According to public data, since this year, the total number of research and development platforms at or above the provincial level in the region has reached 37, including 8 research and development and innovation platforms for the carbon fiber industry.
In terms of market scale, China’s carbon fiber operation capacity is on the rise from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, China’s carbon fiber production capacity will rise to 63000 tons. The market capacity brought by technology optimization can greatly alleviate the premium anxiety in the supply chain. In fact, carbon fiber is only the tip of the iceberg in the cost of new materials, and there are many industries facing the most basic growth.
High-end thermal field materials are the most typical one. The participation of enterprises in this field is not too strong. For a long time, domestic thermal field materials are dependent on overseas imports. The pricing power of leading enterprises such as Germany, Japan and the United States is quite high. However, since 2019, China has gradually stepped into this field.
Up to now, there are more than 80 domestic thermal field materials, but most of them are concentrated in small-scale enterprises with less than 50 million, and real large enterprises have not yet been incubated. All kinds of signs show that there is still a long way to go in all links of upstream and downstream to reduce the cost of new materials.
How many problems are there in building new energy vehicles?
Although the reputation and capital of the current car manufacturing circle are far from as crazy as before, there are still many activists who want to rush in with one mind. In addition to Weixiaoli, the head of the domestic car industry, and Nezha Weima, which is emerging in the market, there are at least 50 new brands struggling on this noisy soil.
It is worth noting that after the last round of capital boiling, the difficulty of the next round of car building has little to do with money, but focuses on the indoctrination and expressiveness of technology. The most obvious change is that the new forces in the head are gradually overwhelmed by the traditional car enterprises with core technology. Take September of this year as an example. In September, BYD’s monthly sales exceeded 200000, Geely and GAC Aian’s monthly sales also reached 30000, Chang’an and Chery exceeded 20000, while Nezha, the highest monthly sales of New Force, was only 18000, and Xiaopeng even had 8468.
Frankly speaking, the reason why the new force is approached by the traditional automobile enterprises is nothing more than the shift of the technical focus. While the former continues to bet on intelligent driving and the cool experience of human-vehicle integration, the energy of the traditional automobile enterprises has always stayed in the key fields of electric motor, electric motor, electric control, etc. BYD can ride out of the dust, and its core technologies such as blade battery and super hybrid DM-i system have made the greatest contribution.
Which is more important, intelligence and the essential development of tram? From a technical point of view, the threshold of the automobile intelligent Internet connection is not high, which involves the homogenization problem that is frequently criticized by people in the current car manufacturing circle. According to media statistics, features such as L2+level auxiliary driving, airbag and curtain protection, intelligent voice interaction and so on have long been flooded, and many new energy vehicle brands such as Nezha, Oula, Weima, SAIC Feifan, and Zero Run are comparable to copy and paste in some functions.
From the perspective of the consumer market, domestic consumption of new energy vehicles is ultimately a whim. According to survey data from iMedia, 41.7% of Chinese consumers are dissatisfied with new energy vehicles due to poor endurance. 36.7% of Chinese consumers are dissatisfied with new energy vehicles due to inadequate supporting facilities.
In a word, it is more important to continue.
Admittedly, after the technical bottleneck of car building, we can only use intelligence to make up for the existence of technology in the development of the automobile industry. It is nothing more than that the endurance technology has not ushered in a new breakthrough. Can the new energy battery go further? Today’s mainstream power batteries are lithium ternary batteries and lithium iron phosphate batteries, but lithium carbonate not only has a high price and cost, but also has high safety, and its density and performance are also trapped in a vortex that is difficult to improve.
The breakthrough in batteries may be related to the application of new materials. The main development direction of Weilai new energy vehicles is to use new superconducting materials. Graphene, which has long been considered to have advantages over lithium carbonate in terms of energy storage, long life, and charging speed, has also attracted attention.
Circle after circle, the car building forces were making a lot of noise. Fortunately, they finally returned to their original place.