SHANGHAI, Oct. 10 (SMM) – A recent SMM survey of 91 major domestic lead-acid battery producers revealed the following insights:
The SMM survey showed an average operating rate at domestic lead-acid battery producers during August of 62.20%, basically flat with the 62.67% from July.
In August, operating rates at battery producers remained low due mainly to sluggish economic conditions, both at home and abroad. China’s August manufacturing PMI was down 0.9% to 49.2%, a nine-month low. The output sub-index fell to 50.9%, down 0.9 percentage point from a month ago, and the new order sub-index of 48.7% has now remained below 50 for a fourth straight month. The new export order sub-index was unchanged at 46.6%, with China’s exports largely affected by sluggish overseas economies.
Among the three types of lead-acid battery producers, only ignition battery producers increased operating rates, with the monthly average up 0.5 percentage point to 58.09%, while motive and backup battery producers both reported lower operating rates. China’s automobile output rose 4.5% MoM in August, to 1.5014 million vehicles, the first gain since April. Although sales of Japanese cars are down due to recent Sino-Japanese political tensions, the situation moderated somewhat in August according to the CAAM, with orders for lead-acid batteries used in Japanese cars less affected. Motorcycle output also grew 2.2% MoM to 1.9572 million units. This modest recovery in the automobile and motorcycle sectors helped raise operating rates at ignition battery producers.
The average operating rate at motive battery producers fell 0.5% in August to 60.85%. Motive battery manufacturers also saw rates fall in July and August following the brief high demand season in June. Traditionally, demand for motive batteries should improve noticeably from June to September since electric vehicles are favored during the summer months. However, weak domestic demand undermined any improvements in electric vehicle consumption this year. High summer temperatures required fewer replacement batteries, further dampening demand. As a result, most lead-acid battery producers resorted to sales promotions and price cuts to ease financial pressures and deplete existing finished goods inventories.
The average monthly operating rate at backup battery producers fell by 1.76% MoM to 68.24%, and was below 70% for the first time since February. The SMM survey also showed replacement of the batteries for telecommunication base stations has been delayed and that new telecommunication base station projects have also been postponed due to the National Day holiday and the approach of the 18th National People’s Congress, causing output at some large backup battery producers to fall. Export-oriented producers also reported lower operating rates due to sluggish overseas markets.