The World's Biggest Battery Producer CATL Signs MoU with EV Startup VinFast to Develop a ‘Skateboard' Electric Vehicle Platform
【Summary】China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), which is the biggest supplier of electric vehicle batteries to the global auto industry, announced the signing of an MoU with Vietnam-based EV startup VinFast for the co-development of a dedicated skateboard platform for battery-powered vehicles that can significantly lower production costs.
China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), which is the biggest supplier of electric vehicle batteries to the global auto industry, announced the signing of an memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vietnam-based EV startup VinFast for the co-development of a dedicated skateboard platform for battery-powered vehicles.
The MoU signing ceremony included by Dr. Robin Zeng, founder and Chairman of CATL, and Mr. Pham Nhat Vuong, Chairman of Vingroup and its EV subsidiary VinFast.
The two companies will closely collaborate on CATL's "CIIC" (CATL integrated intelligent chassis) skateboard platforms that could help VinFast significantly lower its production costs in the future. The development of a new CIIC follows the current cooperation on a "cell-to-pack" (CTP) battery supply agreement between the two companies.
CTP technology incorporates the battery cells directly into an electric vehicle's chassis. Integrating battery cells directly into an electric vehicle's (EV) frame will allow more cells to be packed into an EV, which can extend range.
CATL's CIIC skateboard chassis contains all of a battery-powered vehicle's powertrain components, including the battery packs, electric motors and electronics. The various components will be integrated into a single layer at the bottom of the vehicle, which helps to reduce production costs and maximize cabin space.
Automakers General Motors and Volkswagen developed similar skateboard platforms that will serve as the foundation for future EVs. The respective platforms reduce manufacturing complexity which in turn can help reduce production costs.
As a new EV startup competing in a highly competitive global market that's currently dominated by segment leader Tesla, working with CATL will help VinFast to more quickly expand its global reach. Not only will VinFast leverage CATL's advanced batteries, EVs built on the CIIS will offer competitive range, safety, and intelligent driving capabilities. The cooperation will also help CATL to enhance its own global footprint, especially in emerging markets by promoting the application of new EV technologies.
Vietnam-based VinFast was founded in 2017. The company currently builds EVs in its home country, including e-scooters, electric buses and electric cars, along with charging stations and other green energy solutions. VinFast says its strongly committed to an affordable pricing strategy to accelerate sustainable electric mobility.
VinFast owns a state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing complex in Hai Phong, Vietnam that will have the capacity to produce 950,000 EVs per year by 2026, according to the company. VinFast completed construction of the factory and developed its first three car models in just 21 months. The EV startup launched its first model, the VF e34 compact electric SUV, for the Vietnamese market in 2021.
VinFast has since established global operations in the US, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands as part of its global expansion plans.
In May, VinFast's Singapore-based holding company filed for an initial public offering (IPO) with U.S. securities regulators that could value the company up to $60 billion. The IPO plans were announced just days after VinFast signed an MoU to build a new electric vehicle factory in North Carolina.
VinFast is investing up to $4 billion in the plant to build EVs in the U.S. This spring, North Carolina's Economic Investment Committee voted to approve an incentive package worth a total of more than $850 million for VinFast's vehicle and battery factory in Chatham County, NC.
Global vehicles slated to be produced in North Carolina include the VinFast VF 9, a 7-passenger fully-electric Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), along with the VF8, a smaller 5-passenger, mid-size SUV. VinFast unveiled the VF 8 and VF 9 at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Nov 2021.
VinFast said prices for its VF8 electric SUV will start from $41,000 in the U.S. The company is targeting global electric vehicle sales of 42,000 units this year.
In preparation for entering the U.S. market, VinFast simultaneously opened its first six U.S. retail showrooms in California in July. The retail stores are intended to showcase and sell VinFast's electric vehicles. It's a similar retail model as EV startups Rivian, Polestar and Lucid Group that don't have a traditional network of dealerships.
VinFast's strategy is to expand its network of retail locations in order to build personalized relationships with its customers, ensuring peace of mind throughout the process of buying and owning a VinFast electric vehicle.
In July, CATL unveiled its latest battery design named the "Qilin". The energy-dense cell-to-pack battery can allow an electric vehicle to travel 1,000 km (621 miles) on a charge, according to the company. The Qilin battery can be a game changer for the auto industry and lead to the widespread global adoption of electric vehicles.
The Qilin battery is named after a legendary creature in Chinese mythology, is the third generation (CTP 3.0) of CATL's cell-to-pack (CTP) battery technology. The battery achieves the world's highest volume utilization efficiency of 72%, which CATL says can easily deliver ranges of over 600 miles.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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