Continuing role for lead batteries in China's e-bike market

Agenda for
5-9 September

Huw Roberts
Director, CHR Metals
In April 2019 China introduced new standards for e-bikes. Among other changes, the weight of an e-bike including batteries was limited to 55kg. It was widely assumed that this would end the use of lead batteries in the key market sector, to be replaced by lithium batteries.

Three years on, lead batteries continue to power most electric two and three-wheelers on China\'s roads. The main reasons for this are as follows. In addition to regulating e-bikes, China also introduced specifications for e-mopeds and e-motorbikes which are not subject to a limit on weight. These two classes of electric two-wheelers continue largely to be powered by lead batteries, these being considerably cheaper than lithium batteries. Even in the smaller e-bike sector, lead batteries are still being used. Lead battery makers have developed more power intensive units which remain cheaper than their lithium counterparts and do not take e-bikes above the mandated weight limit. In some cases, lead batteries are also chosen due to safety concerns related to lithium batteries. This paper will review recent developments in the Chinese e-bike market and consider the potential for innovative lead batteries to be the power source of choice as two and three-wheel e-mobility is pursued in the South East and South Asia.


Huw Roberts is an economist and co-founder with Claire Hassall of CHR Metals Limited.  The company has an international reputation for providing in-depth analysis of the global zinc and lead industries, offering particular insight into developments in China.  Huw’s career in the metals industry includes working for an LME broker, a number of years with a mining company and senior positions in metals industry consultancy.  CHR Metals was established in 2000 and has offices in the UK and China.