Recently, we did a story about a new Morrow battery factory in Norway that will be built in four stages, with each stage capable of producing 8 GWh of batteries for a total of 32 GWh several years from now. That’s good news, but nothing like the latest announcement from CATL. It says it has plans to construct a new battery cell manufacturing facility near the Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai that will have an annual production capacity of 80 GWh — enough to power 800,000 electric cars.
A senior CATL official tells Reuters the company wants to expand its relationship with Tesla and supply half of the batteries Tesla uses in its electric vehicles and Powerwall energy storage devices worldwide. CATL began supplying batteries to Tesla for its Chinese made Model 3 last year. CATL currently produces 69.1 GWh of batteries and has another 77.5 GWh of capacity under construction.
CATL is reportedly now the world’s largest battery manufacturer and has every intention of keeping that distinction. In addition to Tesla, CATL supplies batteries to Volkswagen, General Motors, BMW, and Daimler as well as several Chinese automakers. It nearly quadrupled its battery sales to 21.4 GWh in the first four months of 2021, according to SNE Research. LG Energy Solution saw its sales increase 133% to 14.2 GWh during the same period, while Panasonic’s sales climbed 51% to 9.7 GWh, the SNE report said.
CATL is headquartered in the southeastern city of Ningde but wants to expand to Shanghai where it will have access to a larger and more diversified talent pool. It is also considering setting up a research center and a global sales and operational center in Shanghai due to difficulties in retaining and hiring staff in Ningde, the source tells Reuters.
The new factory will employ 5,000 workers and focus on cell-to-chassis technology that integrates cells directly into a vehicles’s frame to increase the energy density of the battery system. CATL Chairman Zeng Yuqun has said electric vehicles could attain driving ranges of over 800 km with CTC technology, which his company intends to offer to customers before 2030. By comparison, CATL’s cell-to-pack technology, which is currently used in Tesla Model 3 cars made in Shanghai, offers a range of 468 km. The company is hard at work finding ways to eliminate the use of cobalt and nickel in its products as well.
CATL said that it is in talks with Tesla about more collaboration and that Tesla is seeking help from the company on battery solutions, but the company declined to comment on any plans for additional production capacity. There are all sorts of rumors flying around that Tesla sales are down this quarter in China, but in April, the company urged its battery suppliers to give it all the batteries they can produce. Apparently, Tesla is not too worried about lack of demand for its cars.
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