In the first half of 2019, the Chinese battery manufacturer CATL was able to achieve strong growth in sales and profits compared to the same period of the previous year. The biggest sales driver continues to be business with electric car batteries.
The figures in brief: Compared to H1 2018, sales in the first half of 2019 rose by 116.5 per cent to around 20.3 billion yuan (2.8 billion dollars) and profits by 130.1 per cent to around 2.1 billion yuan (293 million dollars). 83 per cent of total sales were accounted for by the Power Battery System division, the business segment for battery cells, battery modules and battery packs.
This high share shows the importance of sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids in China (the well-known New Energy Vehicles) for CATL. The stationary energy storage business grew even faster (sales up 369 per cent), but at 240 million yuan, it is also the smallest. The lithium battery materials division increased sales by 32 per cent to 2.3 billion yuan.
In the past twelve months, CATL has greatly expanded its production. According to the quarterly report, the capacity of the Chinese plants is now 30.0 GWh – compared to 13.8 GWh a year ago.
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Despite the sharp rise in sales and production capacities, CATL itself is only cautiously optimistic about its own business prospects. On the one hand, the company is still dependent on the NEV market in China and thus on the government’s subsidy policy, and on the other hand, competition is increasing all the time. An indication of this: CATL must invest more in research in order to survive in a competitive environment. Expenditure on research and development rose by 97 per cent within one year.
If it is not possible to maintain a leading level and bring rapid upgrades to the lithium-ion battery – whose development direction is uncertain – competitiveness and profitability could suffer, according to CATL. Finally, the Chinese battery manufacturer has entered into a close cooperation with Toyota.
CATL is also of great importance to German carmakers, and CATL is a key supplier of electric cars made in China. With the planned plant in Erfurt, Germany (construction is to begin in autumn), the Chinese will also play an increasingly important role in electric cars from German production (e.g. at BMW). In a recent media report, CATL was also associated with Tesla for the supply of the Gigafactory 3 near Shanghai.