March 25, 2021: China has decided to ban lead batteries in low-speed electric vehicles, according to a report by news agency Reuters on March 24, quoting a post on the China Automotive Technology and Research Center’s website.
Reuters says the decision was made at a meeting in the industrial metropolis of Tianjin, where regulators were drafting rules to categorize LSEVs where they had not been previously regarded as qualifying for proper licence plates. “Low-speed vehicles can only use lithium iron phosphate or ternary lithium batteries,” the draft says.
“For lead, the move ‘will cast a shadow over the demand outlook… in the medium to longer term,’ ING analysts said in a note,” said Reuters.
The decision has not been confirmed by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which was also at the meeting, the agency said. It is unclear which low-speed vehicles the restrictions would apply to. If it is across the board it would mean electric bicycles, tricycles, all-terrain vehicles and passenger vehicles.
If implemented, the ban could have a significant impact on the lead battery industry, with the LSEV sector seeing huge expansion in China.
Because they are unregulated it is impossible to put a figure on how many LSEVs there are China, but in its China Low-speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) Industry Report, 2020-2026, ReportLinker estimates that China has around 41 million of them on its roads. Not all of those will contain lead batteries.
Geoffrey May, director of Focus Consulting, said the report looked like a consultation, and that in many cases it was a way of China finding a way of using the most cost-effective solution to keep the status quo.
“However all of these initiatives are a worry,” he said.