Battery technology start-ups: Which direction are future business models moving in?

Munich, June 2022

Battery technology start-ups: Which direction are future business models moving in?

Munich, June 2022

t present we are experiencing a worldwide shift from conventional combustion engines into buzzing battery-electric vehicles.

New car registrations paint a clear picture of the trend: while worldwide the number of new registrations across all drive systems is set to increase by 5% by the year 2030, the traditional combustion engine is expected to lose significant market share and new registrations for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) are expected to increase by a global average of more than 30%.

The fundamental building block and prerequisite for this growth will be the availability of sufficient battery cells. In 2021, the annual production capacity for lithium-ion batteries in the U.S., Europe and China was just under 700 GWh. By 2030, annual demand of up to 2,600 GWh is expected in these areas; meeting this would necessitate a 16% annual increase in production capacity. The rapid growth in battery cell demand and accompanying production capacity confronts the supplier industry with some core questions: which structures and business models will enable this growth? Will established market participants react quickly and innovatively to the trend – or will new market participants be able to capitalize on the gaps before existing suppliers are able to close them?

Established suppliers have taken various approaches to the shift to e-mobility, but in the last 10 years we have seen real hype around start-ups focused on battery technology and production. Out of 700 battery-related start-ups founded since 2010, 279 are connected to the car industry. Alongside great market potential and the buzz around EVs, low interest rates in the capital markets have supported this development. The number of EV battery start-ups reached a peak in 2016 and 2017, but has since slowed. As Figure 1 below shows, the majority of such start-ups come from North, Central and South America, although large companies from other regions have successfully been established, especially in the field of cell production. The Chinese supplier CATL, for example, was founded as a start-up in 2011, and by 2019 had tripled its turnover, reaching an impressive €18.1 billion in sales by 2021.

Figure 1: Battery start-ups connected to the car industry, 2010-2021

Fritz Metzger


Hendryk Pausch

Senior Associate

Sven Zellner


If we look at the financing of these start-ups, we see a trend toward large financing rounds, particularly in the last few years. Out of more than 200 financing rounds for the start-ups in our analysis, 53 happened in 2021 with an average volume of €119 million. The amount raised has increased seven-fold since 2020, from €900 million to more than €6 billion. Large financing volumes are to be found particularly for the investment-intensive battery producers. The capital raised is needed to expand production capacities in line with the rapidly increasing demand from car manufacturers.

Figure 2: Start-up financing before public first issue after years

As EV battery producers increase in size, it is becoming more difficult for start-ups to break into the market. Entrepreneurs seem to be trying their luck in new and different segments of the battery value chain, and in the last few years start-ups have been founded in fields such as recycling, remanufacturing and services. Both the absolute number and the share of start-ups in the field of battery production have been declining in the last three years (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Automotive battery start-ups by year and value-chain segment

Areas which still offer potential for start-ups are field monitoring of batteries and production, and closing of material cycles. Artificial intelligence is increasingly used in these fields and contributes to quality assurance in field and production monitoring, as well as addressing unresolved sustainability challenges to create customer benefits. One example is the start-up Accure Battery Intelligence from Aachen in Germany.

The question remains: what options do established automotive suppliers have in the EV battery space? The battle for ever-larger production volume is in full cry and market share is distributed between the existing players. As a result, conventional suppliers as well as young start-ups should focus on peripheral areas and build targeted skills there, to drive forward the whole battery ecosystem and solve problems arising along the value stream. They can do this by creating their own capabilities or through acquisition from outside.

About the author
Fritz Metzger

Fritz Metzger (1986) joined Berylls Strategy Advisors, an international strategy consultancy specializing in the automotive industry, in February 2021. He is an expert on automotive operations.

Since 2011, his focus has been on strategic alignment and operational efficiency improvement of automotive manufacturers and suppliers. He also advises top management in critical situations, including R&D and industrialization task forces and relocation and restructuring initiatives of plants and complete suppliers. The challenges of e-mobility are always in focus.

Before joining Berylls, he was a director at international strategy consultants PwC Strategy&, as well as a sales and project manager at a medium-sized supplier and mechanical engineering company.

Fritz Metzger is a trained industrial engineer with a degree from ESB Business School Reutlingen. He also holds an MBA from the University of Salzburg.