Chinese battery giant CATL announced on December 21 that its factory in Thuringia, Germany, has begun the mass production of lithium-ion battery cells as scheduled. These battery cells have passed all necessary tests, which means that the company now has a local production and supply capacity for its European customers.
In April this year, the factory obtained the 8GWh battery cell production license in Thuringia. Previously, the factory started module production in the third quarter of 2021. The factory with a planned production capacity of 14GWh cost 1.8 billion euros and will provide a total of 2,000 local jobs in the future.
In fact, since the release of its Kirin battery in June this year, CATL has been exploring the global market. In July, it reached a strategic cooperation agreement with Ford Motor, and in August, it reached an agreement with Hungary on the construction of a second global battery factory in Europe. The factory in Debrecen, Hungary is close to those of many automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Stellantis, and Volkswagen, which enables the company to better respond to the needs of its European consumers.
In the Chinese market, CATL is already a leading player. According to the China Automotive Power Battery Industry Innovation Alliance, in the first 11 months of 2022, the loading capacity of CATL was 124.13 GWh, with a market share of 48.02%. However, compared with last year, its market share declined. Its biggest rival was BYD and other players in the field also are striving to seize more market share. In addition, car companies no longer need to choose a fixed battery supplier.
Robin Zeng, chairman of CATL, pointed out at the 2022 World New Energy Vehicle Congress that power batteries account for about 40% of the cost of electric vehicles, and technological innovation is the main focus for a reduction in battery costs and an increase in production. In fact, the innovative technology and excellent performance of Kirin battery are helping CATL reach a new level. The Kirin battery is expected to be mass-produced and put on the market in 2023, which can increase the energy density of lithium iron phosphate battery system and ternary battery system to 160Wh/kg and 255Wh/kg, thus realizing a cruising range of 1000 kilometers.
According to Zeng, CATL invests 6%-7% of its revenue in R&D every year. In the first half of this year, it has invested about 6 billion yuan ($860 million) in R&D, and patent applications have maintained the highest growth rate in the industry. The investment map of CATL is also expanding as it has broadened its investment in other vehicle companies such as Chery, Aiways, Avatr, NETA and Seres.