Sony introduced the first commercial lithium-ion battery in 1991, which forms the basis of most batteries in today’s mobile phones, laptops and electric cars.

Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the lithium-ion batteries theme, as identified by GlobalData.

600BC – Thales of Miletus discovered an electric charge can be created by rubbing fur on glass.

1740 – Invention of the Leyden Jar for storing an electric charge. A connected set of jars creates a high voltage, effectively becoming the first battery.

1800 – Alessandro Volta invents the ‘Voltaic pile’, consisting of alternating disks of copper and zinc separated by brine-soaked cloth.

1834 – Michael Faraday demonstrates the motion of ions through liquid and solid electrolytes.

1859 – Gaston Plante invents the rechargeable lead-acid battery and, in 1881, Camille Faure discovers how to manufacture them.

1884 – Emil Warburg demonstrates conductivity of sodium ions through glass.

1897 – Walther Nernst develops the Nernst Lamp that heats a ceramic rod to the point that it becomes incandescent.

1902 – Thomas Edison develops an iron-nickel battery, later adding lithium hydroxide to the electrolyte to improve performance.

1914 – Carl Tubandt and Erich Lorenz characterise the conductivity of silver iodide at high temperatures.

1967 – Neill Weber and JT Kummer develop the sodium-sulphur battery while working at Ford. It uses a solid ceramic membrane as an electrolyte.

1973 – Motorola engineer Martin Cooper makes the first call from a hand-held, untethered mobile phone.

1975 – Peter Wright produces the first polymer electrolyte, featuring sodium and potassium salts contained in polyethylene oxide.

1976 – Exxon announces the lithium-titanium battery but can’t stop them exploding.

1980 – John Goodenough develops a lithium-cobalt-oxygen battery – the precursor to today’s Lithium-ion technology.

1982 – Nokia introduces a 10kg car phone.

1983 – AT&T subsidiary launches first commercial cellular network for car phones.

1986 – Price of petroleum falls dramatically, prompting Exxon, GE and GM to stop their research into new battery technology.

1991 – Sony develops the first lithium-ion battery for commercial use for a handheld camera.

1995 – Motorola introduces lightweight lithium-ion based MicroTac and StarTac cell phones. The latter weighed just 87.9g.

2006 – Tesla Roadster launches, kicking off the commercial electric car business.

2007 – Apple changes the game with the first iPhone, using lithium-ion batteries.

2008 – GM chooses LG Chem to supply batteries for the Chevy Bolt, due in 2017.

2009 – Obama administration decides to fund battery technology development and allocates $2bn of federal funding.

2012 – US-government-funded A123 Systems files for bankruptcy – one of many battery start-ups to go under.

2014 – Tesla and Panasonic sign an agreement for a $5bn lithium-ion battery Gigafactory project.

2014 – Tesla starts selling Powerwall domestic and commercial energy storage systems.

2015 – BYD announces the world’s biggest EV sales volumes, mostly electric buses in China.

2015 – Chinese smartphone companies Huawei and Xiaomi start out-selling Apple and Samsung in the Chinese market.

2016 – Tesla announces “stretch goal” to produce 500,000 Model 3 EVs by 2018.

2016 – Operations begin at the Gigafactory.

2017 – First batches of Chevy Bolts and Tesla Model 3s appear.

2018 – Bolts and Model 3s move to mass production.

2021 – Electric robotaxis launched in ‘controlled zones’ in a handful of cities.

2023 – First EVs appear with solid-state batteries – these will be limited to high-end models.

2025 – Electric cars account for 25% of new-car sales.

2030 – Lithium-ion battery market hits $100bn.

2030 – Introduction of solid-state batteries to mass-market electric vehicles enabling greater range, faster recharge times and enhanced safety.

This is an edited extract from the Electric Vehicle Batteries – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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