Fitch: Batteries could be key disruptor to oil industry in "investor death spiral"

|By:, SA News Editor

Oil producers such as ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) must prepare for radical change as adoption of new technologies like electric cars could happen faster than originally anticipated, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings.

"Widespread adoption of battery-powered vehicles is a serious threat to the oil industry," and an acceleration of the electrification of transport infrastructure could create an "investor death spiral" as investors flee the oil patch, Fitch warns.

Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) upcoming Model 3 will start at $35K before rebates and begin production in late 2017 and is aimed at a broader market, GM's Chevrolet Bolt starts at $37.5K before government incentives and will be available later this year, and other automakers are offering affordable all-electric vehicles, as Fitch estimates battery costs have plunged by 73% since 2008.

Fitch notes that some oil majors have taken steps to diversify their offerings, including Total (NYSE:TOT), which has invested in batteries via its $1.1B purchase in May of Saft Groupe and bought a 60% stake in solar panel maker SunPower in 2011.