The market moves like an ocean. It ebbs. It flows. It is effected by forces unseen, but constantly felt. It can carry you to a brilliant undiscovered future, or crush you with one mighty wave. So, when a market research firm as respected as Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the lithium battery market will increase from $17.5 billion in 2013 to $76.4 billion in 2020, believe that investors and venture capitalists alike are paying close attention. Everyone wants to know where the storm will break, and who will be ready to profit from it.
As the battery continues to improve and evolve, new methods of drawing power are being developed around the globe. New materials, such as sulfur and titanium, are being used to create more efficient battery models. Instant batteries that can sit on the shelf indefinitely are already available. One just needs to add water to produce power. There are even batteries being made out of dirt.
But the question remains, who can a person invest in? The answer is, unfortunately, a very short list.
Currently, many of the developers and scientists engineering these batteries work for privately owned companies and research facilities. This makes them unapproachable for any normal return on investment. However, there are five companies currently developing these next generation batteries that are publically traded.
Elon Musk launched Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), capitalizing on electric car trends, engineering vehicles that had two and three times the range of his competitors. His other company, SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) created the Powerwall system for providing electrical power to a residential home using solar panels. Already a leading edge contributor, Musk made a deal with Panasonic Corp. (PCRFY) to commence construction on a $5 billion gigafactory in Nevada to produce lithium batteries.
Not to be outdone, Sony Corp. (SNE) led the charge back in 1991 with the first commercial lithium-ion battery, and is now planning to present a new lithium-sulfur battery in 2020. Sony promises a 40% better capacity than its current models.
Finally, the Furukawa Company is offering a magnesium-air box battery called the Mg Box. It weighs about 3.5 pounds and delivers sufficient electricity to charge a mobile phone for up to 30 days. Furukawa trades on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
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