CATL’s new battery factory near the Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai announced in August 2021 is progressing fast. Local media reports CATL has already delivered the first cells to Tesla and that the factory is running at 60 per cent capacity.
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The latest report came through the portal Shanghai Observer referring to inside sources at CATL. However, the figure of 60 per cent remains relative as the actual or planned production capacity have never been disclosed. CATL only announced in the summer of last year that they were building the factory. Unconfirmed rumours mentioned 80 GWh at the time.
Capacity aside, CATL was likely able to start production quickly due to on-site conditions. Like Tesla’s Giga Shanghai, the CATL battery factory is also located in the Lin-gang Special Area industrial park. Moreover, according to the report, the administration offered CATL an existing building where only interior work was necessary, saving the company 7-8 months of construction time, according to the CATL source.
In June 2021, Tesla and CATL had signed a new supply agreement for battery cells that runs from January 2022 to December 2025. No details on the agreed-upon supply volume or cell chemistry were provided at the time. Then in October, there was a report that Tesla had ordered 45 GWh of LFP cells from CATL for 2022 alone. Based on the size of the LFP batteries in current Tesla models, that should be enough for about 800,000 vehicles. Since Giga Shanghai is currently designed for 450,000+ vehicles, some cells should also be installed in other Tesla plants.
Tesla relied on Panasonic as the exclusive cell supplier for the longest time. It was not until the start of production at the Gigafactory Shanghai that the Californian electric car manufacturer began to accept other suppliers, namely LG Energy Solution and CATL. The latter manufacturer supplies the Shanghai production facility with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells. However, there was also a report in 2021 that Tesla had ordered 10 GWh of blade batteries from BYD. The blade batteries also use LFP cell chemistry – but this remains unconfirmed.
CATL had an installed production capacity of 11.45 GWh as of November 2021, according to figures from the China Automotive Battery Innovation Alliance. This makes the company by far the largest battery cell manufacturer in China: CATL’s market share is 55 per cent, followed by BYD with 18.6 per cent and CALB and Gotion with 5.2 per cent each. SVOLT has 2.7 per cent, Farasis 1.6 per cent, and the Korean company LG Energy Solution, with its China plants, accounts for 1.2 per cent of the Chinese market.
Update 26 January 2022
The CATL battery factory near the Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai, which has been supplying Tesla since November 2021, is mainly used to assemble battery modules from cells supplied by CATL from other regions, according to new reports from local media. The facility was leased to meet Tesla’s demand for battery modules with LFP cells. CATL’s actual cell factory in Shanghai, which is rumoured to be able to supply up to 80 GWh per year in the future, is still under construction.
Additional reporting by Sebastian Schaal.
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