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Battery Maker CATL is Working to Integrate Electric Vehicle Batteries into the Vehicle's Chassis

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【Summary】Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd. (CATL) announced this week that it's working on a new battery technology that incorporates the battery cells directly into an electric vehicle’s chassis. The novel idea of integrating cells directly into an electric vehicle’s (EV) frame will allow more cells to fit, which can extend range.

Eric Walz    Aug 14, 2020 10:45 AM PT
Battery Maker CATL is Working to Integrate Electric Vehicle Batteries into the Vehicle's Chassis

Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd. (CATL) announced this week that it's working on a new battery technology that incorporates the battery cells directly into an electric vehicle's chassis, Reuters reports. 

The technology would increase the number of battery cells that can fit in a battery-powered vehicle, while also eliminating the large battery casing that houses the individual cell and modules.

The novel idea of integrating cells directly into an electric vehicle's (EV) frame will allow more cells to be packed into an EV, which can extend range, which is the goal for producers of electric vehicles. Extending range equal or greater than a combustion engine vehicle is one of the hurdles to widespread EV adoption.

With the new technology, EVs could have a driving range of over 800 kms (500 miles), CATL Chairman Zeng Yuqun said at an industry conference in Wuhan, China on Wednesday. 

CATL plans to launch the technology before 2030.

As reported by Reuters, Zeng did not say whether CATL was already working with any automaker to implement this new design, but CATL supplies Tesla with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for vehicles built at the automaker's Shanghai assembly plant.

Incorporating batteries into a vehicle chassis during assembly would require CATL to work closely with an automaker and participate in the vehicle's initial design process. Most automakers today source batteries modules from suppliers and equip them to fit a car's mechanical design, so CATL's in-chassis battery technology is unprecedented in the auto industry.

CATL is emerging as one of the world's leading supplies of batteries to the auto industry. The company also supplies batteries to Japan's Honda Motor, Volkswagen, Volvo and Mercedes Benz. 

Other top suppliers include Tesla's U.S. battery partner Panasonic, as well as South Korean battery maker LG Chem, which is a supplier to General Motors. 

LG Chem and GM are investing $2.3 billion in a joint venture battery factory in Ohio. The plant will produce GM's new Ultium batteries that the automaker unveiled in March.

CATL said in a filing this week that it plans to invest around 19 billion yuan ($2.73 billion) to accelerate its global expansion. However, the company did not disclose details of the investments. 

In June, CATL announced that its ready to build an EV battery with an expected lifespan of 1.2 million miles or 16 years before its needs replacement, which could be game changing for the auto industry.

The company is also working on an EV battery recycling program for batteries that reach the end of their service life.

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