Zeekr's New 009 Electric Passenger Van is the World's First EV to Feature CATL's Advanced ‘Qilin' Battery With a Range of 510 Miles

Zeekr's New 009 Electric Passenger Van is the World's First EV to Feature CATL's Advanced ‘Qilin' Battery With a Range of 510 Miles

Author: Eric Walz   

China's new premium electric vehicle brand Zeekr, which is owned by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. ("Geely"), has officially launched its second model, a sleek passenger van named the "009".

The electric multi-passenger van (MPV) will be the world's first vehicle powered by an advanced battery developed by battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd. (CATL) called the "Qilin", which was unveiled over the summer.

CATL is the world's biggest supplier of batteries to the auto industry and the largest lithium-ion battery producer in China. The company's automotive customers include Tesla. CATL supplies the batteries for the Tesla Model 3 sedans built in Shanghai. The company also supplies batteries to Honda, Volkswagen, Volvo and Mercedes Benz.  

The more energy-dense, cell-to-pack Qilin battery developed by CATL allows an electric vehicle to travel up to 1,000 km (621 miles) on a single charge, according to the company. The impressive range of the Qilin battery can be a game changer for the auto industry and lead to the widespread global adoption of electric vehicles. 

For one, the battery pack can be reduced by 50% which lowers cost for automakers. Even at half the size, the battery can deliver respectable ranges of 250 miles or more, which can lead to more affordable, mass-market EVs.

CATL's Qilin battery is named after a legendary creature in Chinese mythology and is the third generation of the company's cell-to-pack (CTP 3.0) battery technology. The battery achieves the world's highest volume utilization efficiency of 72% and an energy density of up to 255 Wh/kg, which CATL says delivers ranges of over 600 miles "in a breeze". 

For comparison, the Tesla Model 3 using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry has a cell to pack ratio of 49% with an energy density of 173 Wh/L. 

The Qilin battery can deliver 13% more power than the new and improved 4680 battery being manufactured by Tesla, all with the same battery chemistry and pack size. It also offers improvements in fast-charging, safety, service life, efficiency and low-temperature performance.

The Zeekr 009 MPV is available in two versions, the "WE" and "ME". However, only the more expensive ME version of the 009 MPV will be powered by the 140 kWh Qilin battery. The WE is offered with a more traditional 116 kWh battery that's also supplied by CATL.

The Zeekr 009 equipped with CATL's 140 kWh Qilin battery has a China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle (CLTC) range of 822 km (510 miles). This range figure is almost as much as the 520-mile range of the Dream Edition version of the Lucid Air sedan, which is currently the world's longest range EV on the market. The range of the 009 with the standard 116 kWh battery exceeds 700 km (435 miles), which is still impressive.

The Zeekr 009's range estimates are more than 995 internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles that are currently on the market, according to the company's CEO An Chunghui.


Zeekr's 009 has a CLTC range of 822 km, second to the Lucid Air Dream Edition's range of 837 km.

The WE version of the 009 will start at RMB 499,000 (US$68,452) and the ME version will start at RMB 588,000 (US$80,660). Zeekr said deliveries of the Zeekr 009 with the new Qilin battery  are expected to officially begin in January 2023.

CTP batteries are not built like typical EV batteries using a series of modules connected together that house the individual cells. Instead, the entire battery pack is essentially all one structure. This design increases space utilization and reduces the electronics and cooling systems requirements versus connecting individual modules together.

CATL launched its first CTP battery in 2019. It achieved a volume utilization efficiency of just over 50%. CATL says the further improvements of the Qilin battery was a result of breakthroughs in the core manufacturing process, materials and battery structure design.

Inside the Qilin battery, an internal crossbeam, liquid-cooling plate and thermal pad have been integrated into what CATL calls a "multifunctional elastic interlayer". This layer helps to accommodate the changes inside the cell, improving the battery reliability throughout its entire life cycle. 

The Qilin battery also features a unique water-cooled design. CATL's engineers placed the liquid cooling functional parts between adjacent cells instead of at the bottom like a standard EV battery pack. 

According to CATL, this design increases the heat transfer area by four times while keeping the battery cooler. It also enables the cells to cool down more quickly to prevent any abnormal thermal runaway conduction among cells, which can lead to a fire. 

In addition to the Qilin battery in the Zeekr 009, the EV comes with an advanced driver assist system (ADAS) powered by technology supplied by Intel's autonomous driving unit Mobileye.

The advanced ADAS in the 009 comes standard with dual Mobileye EyeQ5H chips, seven 8-megapixel HD cameras, four 2-megapixel surround view cameras, one ultra-long-range millimeter wave radar, and 12 short-range ultrasonic radars.

With this hardware installed, the Zeekr 009 is capable of autonomous highway driving, including navigating on highway entrance and exit ramps.

Automaker Geely announced the new Zeekr brand in March 2021 as a standalone brand to compete with Tesla, XPeng, NIO Inc. and others in the premium EV category in China. Zeekr raised $500 million in the first-ever external funding round in Oct 2021, valuing the company at $9 billion. The funding round was led by Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of Intel Corp. Zeekr is also backed by Geely's billionaire founder and Chairman Li Shufu.   

Like its domestic rivals XPeng and NIO, Zeekr is targeting tech-savvy, younger customers more likely to purchase an electric vehicle. This group of buyers are seeking advanced vehicles that serve an extension of their digital lives, with connectivity features and smart technologies such as automated driving.

Geely's first model was the "Zeekr 001", a compact, battery-powered wagon, also referred to as a "shooting brake" in the auto industry. It was unveiled in April 2021. The Zeekr 001 is built on Geely's "Sustainable Experience Architecture'' (SEA) EV platform. The SEA is the world's first open-source electric vehicle architecture, according to Geely. 

In February, autonomous driving developer Waymo, which spun out of Google's self-driving car project, unveiled its new electric robotaxi vehicle built by Zeekr. The EV is specifically designed for Waymo's autonomous ride hailing service called "Waymo One", which the company aims to launch in major cities in the U.S. 

Waymo said the multi-passenger Zeekr commercial robotaxi was designed to prioritize the comfort, convenience and the preferences of Waymo customers. The all-electric Zeekr EVs will eventually replace all of the hybrid/gas-powered models in the Waymo One fleet, according to the company.  

Waymo also announced it will integrate its full stack autonomous driving platform it calls the "Waymo Driver" into the commercial version of the all-electric Zeekr robotaxi.

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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