Chinese EV battery manufacturer CATL building plant in Germany; 14 GWh capacity, €240M investment by 2022
The Chinese EV battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) is building its first plant outside of China in Thuringia, Germany. The focus of the 14 GWh plant is on the automated production and intelligent production of batteries. CATL develops battery systems for global customers in EV, HEV and PHEV applications; its sales of EV batteries amounted to 11.84 GWh in 2017—making it Nº 1 globally.
CATL will invest €240 million by 2022 in the German plant, which will be located on a 70-hectare site in the industrial area Erfurt Cross. From Thuringia, which is located in the center of Germany, every major German city can be reached in a maximum of 5 hours by truck.
The project agreement between CATL and the Free State of Thuringia was signed on Monday in the framework of the German-Chinese intergovernmental consultations in the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. With this step, CATL is reaffirming its commitment to the European car market and exploiting the opportunities for growth that Europe and Germany are generating with electric vehicles.
Europe is one of CATL’s key regions for its strategic growth. With the opening of the production facility in Germany, the company underlines the importance of the German market. The decision for Germany fell, among other things, to:
Proximity to the customer, to understand local market requirements and to respond more quickly to customer needs;
Offering BMW, Daimler and VW locally produced solutions; and
European knowledge in battery manufacturing.
The plant in Thuringia is planned as an independent company with production, research and development as well as logistics.
The construction of a plant for the production of intelligent batteries in Germany is the first step in our investment plan for Europe. It serves as a collaboration between European automakers and CATL. By establishing state-of-the-art technology for lithium-ion batteries in Germany and on-site delivery options, we are closer to the customer, enabling us to offer customized solutions and respond even faster to customer needs.—Robin Zeng, CATL CEO
Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) was founded in 2011 and listed on the stock exchange in 2018. The company develops and produces lithium-ion batteries, battery systems for electromobility and energy storage solutions. The company’s core business also includes battery management systems as well as battery recycling and reuse. With an annual supply of 12 GWh in 2017, CATL is number one in the global automotive battery industry.
Among CATL’s current customers are:
International auto makers: BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen.
Chinese auto and vehicle makers: BAIC, SAIC, Geely, Changan, GAC, Great Wall, DFM, NIO, Yutong Bus, Zhongtong Bus, King Long Motor, CRRC.
Energy storage system customers: State Grid.
CATL’s top 5 customers in 2017 were Yutong Bus, Pride Power, Geely Group, King Long Motor Group, and Dongfeng Motor Group.
At the end of 2017, around 23% of CATL’s workforce was in R&D. Its R&D portfolio includes materials study, product development, engineering design, test and verification, intelligent manufacture, project management, etc. CATL has also established a research institute to have comprehensive capabilities in the analysis and verification in materials, cell and battery systems.
CATL also keeps seeking global cooperation with technological leading companies, universities and academic institutions; the company has contributed to drafting more than 40 industry standards.
Shanghai Putailai, a company focusing on cathode materials and other materials for lithium-ion batteries, has formed a strong strategic relationship with CATL. In 2016, CATL also signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Auto Technology & Research Center.
Through 31 December 2017, CATL has applied for more than 2,300 patents, with 907 authorized so far.
In addition to EV batteries, CATL serves the stationary storage market and also has a battery material recycling line of business. However, the EV battery segment represented around 95.6% and around 87% of CATL’s total revenue in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
In terms of cathode types, CATL supplies both ternary batteries (mostly for passenger vehicles) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries (more geared towards commercial vehicles).