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EV Battery Supplier CATL Starts Production at its Largest Global Battery Plant in China, With 120 GWh Annual Capacity Target

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【Summary】Electric vehicle battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL) has started phase 1 production at its new EV battery factory in China, Chinese news outlet Gasoo​ reported on Wednesday. Once completed, the plant will be CATL's world’s largest EV battery factory, with an annual production of 120 GWh.

FutureCar Staff    Dec 23, 2021 12:25 PM PT
EV Battery Supplier CATL Starts Production at its Largest Global Battery Plant in China, With 120 GWh Annual Capacity Target
CATL's battery manufacturing base in Fujian province will have a total of 120GWh in annual capacity.

Electric vehicle battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL) has started phase 1 production at its new EV battery factory in China, Chinese news outlet Gasoo reported on Wednesday. Once completed, the plant will be the world's largest EV battery factory, with an annual production of 120 GWh. 

The plant will be more than three times the size of Tesla's gigafactory in Nevada.

CATL is investing 17 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion) in the plant and said it will create about 10,000 jobs once fully operational.

The first phase of operations will have an annual capacity of 60 GWh and the additional 60 GWh for phase 2. The annual output of 120 GWh is enough to power around 1.2 million EVs. 

CATL was founded in 2011 after making lithium ion batteries since 1999 for consumer electronics. Shortly after relocating to Ninge City, the company got its start working on the Zhangbei energy storage project, which at the time was the largest wind and solar energy project in the world. CATL has since pivoted to making batteries for automakers.

From 2017 to 2020, CATL ranked first in the world for four consecutive years in terms of the total installed capacity of batteries in electric vehicles. 

CATL is also a major battery supplier to Tesla. In Feb 2020, CATL inked a two-year deal to supply batteries to Tesla for its vehicle built in China. 

Ningde City, where CATL is headquartered, has become a regional manufacturing hub for China's lithium-ion battery industry. It is now the largest lithium-ion battery production base in the world.

In October, CATL was in talks with computer giant Apple Inc to supply the batteries for Apple's electric car project, but the California company's unreasonable demands on the company resulted in the talks breaking down.

Apple reportedly wanted CATL to agree to set up teams that would only work with it exclusively, as well as construct a battery plant in the U.S. that would build batteries only for Apple and not for any rivals, three people with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters at the time.

One source told Reuters that CATL found it impossible to set up a separate product development team solely to support Apple.

In June, CATL said it aims to rapidly expand its existing partnership with Tesla and become its biggest battery supplier. The company is aiming to supply half of the battery cells Tesla uses globally in electric vehicles and roof energy storage, a senior source at the Chinese company said. 

In July, CATL unveiled the company's first-generation sodium-ion battery, as well as a battery pack solution, which is able to integrate both sodium-ion cells and traditional lithium-ion cells in an electric vehicle's battery pack. 

The new battery chemistry can lead to the widespread adoption of EVs by reducing battery costs significantly. Sodium-ion batteries contain no lithium, cobalt or nickel. But perhaps the biggest advantage of sodium-ion batteries is the high natural abundance of inexpensive sodium.

CATL says its first generation sodium-ion batteries have high-energy density, fast-charging capability, excellent thermal stability, as well as excellent low-temperature performance. 

Last month, California-based electric vehicle startup Fisker Inc. and CATL announced a formal agreement for the company to supply batteries for the upcoming Fisker Ocean electric SUV.

Under the terms of the agreement, CATL will supply two different battery types for the Fisker Ocean, with an initial battery capacity of over 5 GWh annually from 2023 through 2025.

According to Fisker, the primary high-capacity pack will use a lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cell chemistry, while the second will be built using CATL's latest cells based on lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) chemistry. 

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