Tesla appears to be negotiating with Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to supply battery cells for its Model 3, manufactured in Shanghai, China. The talks between Tesla and CATL have been concerning the required specifications for the cells. The battery cell manufacturer has since denied intentions of entering business with Tesla.
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Bloomberg Quint reported the negotiations with reference to inside information. However, it is still unclear whether the deal will be concluded. Neither Tesla nor CATL have publicly commented on the rumoured talks. There is no doubt that a deal with Tesla could further sharpen CATL’s profile as one of the world’s up-and-coming battery cell companies. The manufacturer, based in the southern Chinese province of Fujian, is preparing to become the largest producer of lithium-ion battery cells in China.
Panasonic is currently known as Tesla’s exclusive partner for battery cells, but the Californians apparently also want to purchase cells from several suppliers in China. CEO Elon Musk had already indicated this on Twitter in November. He wrote: “Cell production will be sourced locally, most likely from several companies (incl Pana), in order to meet demand in a timely manner.”
Accordingly, Reuters already reported in January that Lishen is also under discussion as a possible supplier of battery cells for Tesla in Shanghai. Tesla confirmed at that time that there had been a corresponding offer from Lishen, but also that no agreement had yet been signed. According to two sources not mentioned by name in the report, in contrast to the official statements of Tesla and Lishen, a preliminary agreement in fact already exists.
Meanwhile, news came from China last week that the building for the Shanghai plant is expected to be completed in May. The so-called Gigafactory 3 will not only produce batteries but also complete electric cars. Tesla officially laid the foundation stone for the factory at the beginning of January. A few days ago it was also made public that the financing for the first phase of the plant construction is in place thanks to credit agreements with Chinese banks. The talk is of up to 3.5 billion yuan (465 million euros).
Update 13.03.2019: Following the latest report that CATL is negotiating with Tesla on the supply of battery cells for the Model 3 manufactured at its Shanghai plant in China, CATL is now denying that it has neither intended to cooperate with Tesla nor entered into a business agreement with Tesla, the battery cell manufacturer said.