Continuing the path of battery swaps for passenger cars, Chinese power battery giant CATL is expanding its business to commercial vehicles. On September 17, the company announced that its self-developed MTB (Module-to-Bracket) technology will be applied to the heavy duty truck battery swap project of Qiyuan Green Power, a power battery swap operator under China’s State Power Investment Corporation.
This technology can directly integrate the module into the vehicle bracket/chassis. This modification thus increases the system volume utilization rate by 40%, reduces the weight by 10%, and provides an overall system energy density of 170Wh/kg. The battery has a cycle life of 10,000 times over 10 years, and the original U-shaped water cooling system is able to overcome issues with heat radiation. In addition, the battery system can support many combination plans and can be configured in the range of 140KWh-600KWh.
“Our MTB technology has been completed.” Insiders at CATL said that the technology can also be applied to heavy duty trucks and construction machinery for bottom-hanging charging and swapping, according to a report by STAR Market Daily on September 19. “The company will be committed to promoting the comprehensive electrification of the commercial vehicle market by providing sustainable solutions for battery swap-supported heavy duty trucks and construction machinery.”
Li Liguo, Secretary-General of the China Electric Heavy Duty Truck Battery Swap Industry Promotion Alliance, believes that CATL has a large market share in regard to heavy duty trucks. Further, by promoting battery swapping, the company is more likely to establish an advantage as standards are developed for heavy duty truck battery swaps.
CATL is also speeding up the layout of its battery swaps for heavy duty trucks. In February of this year, it joined hands with Sany Heavy Industry Co., Ltd., a Chinese multinational heavy equipment manufacturing company, to promote the application & demonstration of battery swapping heavy duty trucks in Fujian Province. In August, it signed a contract with Chinese carmaker FAW Jiefang to establish a joint venture company. One of the core businesses of the new venture is to provide vehicle-electricity separation services.
Further, the State Power Investment Corporation is working with CATL this time and has been exploring the battery swap indurstry for a long time. At present, its subsidiary Qiyuan Green Power has built over 100 heavy duty truck charging and swapping stations in 31 provinces across China, serving more than 200 models of heavy duty trucks. In addition, in January this year, CATL took a stake in Qiyuan Green Power and was the fifth largest shareholder of the company.
The data shows that in August, the sales volume of Chinese new energy heavy duty trucks was 1,847 units (excluding exports and military-used vehicles), an increase of 28% from the previous month and a year-on-year increase of 127%. From January to August, the cumulative sales volume of new energy heavy duty trucks reached 13,400, nearly 3,000 vehicles more than the annual sales volume in 2021, with a year-on-year increase of 319%.
Given the penetration rate of heavy duty trucks and the number of battery swapping stations for these vehicles, GF Securities estimates that the penetration rate is expected to reach 20% in 2025 and the proportion of heavy duty trucks is expected to reach 70% in 2025. The sales volume of heavy duty trucks will exceed 200,000. The increased demand for battery swap heavy trucks will drive the demand of various industry players in fields including battery swapping station construction and power battery makers. It is estimated that the number of battery swapping stations for heavy duty trucks will reach 4,500 in 2025, and the market of new equipment in the year is expected to exceed 20 billion yuan.