The interwebs are buzzing with reports that CATL, the largest battery manufacturer in the world, is looking for a place to build a new factory in North America. There seems to be no question it is going to happen, as the need for batteries to power EVs in the US is expected to increase dramatically in the very near future.
The question is, where will the new facility be built? CNEvPost reports that officials from the company have recently journeyed to Mexico to check out the possibilities in that country. Relations between the US and China are shaky at present, with both sides regarding the other with suspicion. BYD, another Chinese-owned company, has been excluded from receiving federal funds for the buses it sells to American customers, even though they are built in America by unionized American workers and powered by US-made batteries.
By locating in Mexico or Canada, CATL would have access to the American market without being subject to potential trade sanctions, or so the thinking goes. If China decides to gobble up Taiwan as Russia has tried to gobble up Ukraine, any Chinese-owned company could find itself persona non grata in the US. Being located just across the border in Mexico or Canada probably won’t save them, but the demand for batteries is so enormous right now, CATL must feel the potential profits outweigh the risks. In any event, batteries produced within the framework of NAFTA would be exempt from the import duties placed on Chinese-made battery cells imported to the US.
CATL Factory To Have 80 GWh Capacity
Electrive says several people familiar with the process have told Bloomberg the new factory would have an annual capacity of 80 gigawatt-hours (GWh) and employ 10,000 people. A date for the possible start of construction has not been revealed, nor do the sources say when the final stage of development should be reached. The batteries manufactured in North America will use both NMC and LFP technology and be available to any interested automakers, including Tesla. The company is also planning to invest $5 billion in a battery recycling facility in China.
CATL already has an installed production capacity of 145 GWh. According to BloombergNEF, the company has announced plans to build another 579 GWh of capacity by 2026, part of which is already under construction. Clearly the company has no intention of relinquishing its position as the world’s largest battery manufacturer anytime soon.