World's Largest EV Battery Producer CATL Expects up to 50% Growth This Year as Demand Soars

World's Largest EV Battery Producer CATL Expects up to 50% Growth This Year as Demand Soars

Author: Eric Walz   

Although many automakers are developing electric models as the auto industry begins its shift towards electrification, few automakers build their own batteries and are reliant on Asian suppliers. Most of the batteries come from just a few suppliers, including CATL, Panasonic, LG Chem and BYD.

As demand for lithium ion batteries increases, Chinese EV battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL), the world's largest automotive battery producer, announced that it expects its net profit for the first three quarters of 2019 to reach between $328 to $500 million (RMB3.092 billion and RMB3.568 billion), jumping 30% to 50% year on year. The news was reported by Gasgoo.

In 2018, CATL overtook Panasonic as the largest lithium ion EV battery supplier. Panasonic supplies batteries to electric car maker Tesla.

CATL is a global leader in the development and manufacturing of lithium-ion power and energy storage batteries, with businesses covering R&D, manufacturing and sales of battery system for electric vehicles, as well as energy storage systems. 

The company said the performance growth resulted from increasing demand for EV batteries amid the rapid development of so called "new energy vehicles" (NEVs) in China. NEVs include fully-electric and plug-in hybrid models. China is the world's biggest market for electric vehicles.

NEV sales surged 80% year-on-year in June 2019, while sales in the first half of the year rose 49.6 percent, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

CATL also said that its net profits rose as a result of the company strengthening its industrial cooperation to improve production and grow its sales.   

In June, Japanese automaker Toyota will sign a memorandum of understanding on a "strategic partnership" with CATL to supply lithium-ion batteries for Toyota-branded electric vehicles to be released in China and other markets starting next year.

"Cell-to-Pack" EV Batteries

Much of CATL's recent work has focused on the development of "cell-to-pack" (CTP) EV batteries. Using CTP technology, CATL says its able to increase mass energy density by 10-15%, improve volume utilization efficiency by 15-20% and reduce the amount of parts used in battery packs by 40%.

Using this new CTP battery platform combined with system improvements, the battery system energy density can increase from 180 Wh/kg (Watt-hour per kilogram) to more than 200 Wh/kg. 

At the cell level, CATL claims that the energy density has already reached 240 Wh/kg in 2019, and by 2024 CATL aims to increase energy density to 350 Wh/kg. The extra energy density allows EVs to go further on each charge.

For comparison, the Panasonic 18650 cells that Tesla uses in the Model S and Model X have an energy density of 254 Wh/kg. 

CATL is Securing Deals with Chinese Automakers

In February, CATL signed a five-year agreement to strengthen its cooperation with BJEV, the electric car subsidiary of the Chinese manufacturer BAIC and battery manufacturer Beijing Pride Power System Technology Limited (Pride Power). 

As part of the agreement, CATL and Pride Power will provide BAIC BJEV with batteries for the next five years. CATL agreed to supply a minimum monthly volume of batteries while BAIC agreed to purchase a certain percentage of battery products from the two partners.

Last month, CATL and its subsidiary Guangdong Brunp Recycling Technology Co., Ltd. (Brunp Recycling) announced a new joint venture with a total registered capital of RMB3.6b ($509M), The new company is named Ningbo Brunp CATL New Energy, and its objectives include research and development and the sale of battery materials and other "relevant materials" such as nickel and cobalt.

CATL announced on Sept 26 it intended to invest up to RMB10b ($1.41b) in a new battery production facility in Yibin, Sichuan province in Southwest China. CATL is also building a battery factory in Germany to supply German automakers with batteries for EVs.The factory is CATL's first overseas factory.

CATL held a groundbreaking ceremony this week marking the start of construction of the state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery factory in Germany. The batteries produced in Europe will supply automakers BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler and Volvo, which all have supply deals with CATL.

CATL is headquartered in Ningde, China and has more than 24,000 employees worldwide. The company has subsidiaries in Beijing, Shanghai, Munich, Paris, Yokohama, Detroit and Vancouver.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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