CATL & Comac found JV to develop electric aircraft
CATL is entering the development of electric aircraft, for which the battery giant founded a joint venture with the state-owned aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Enterprise Development Group.
According to the report by the Chinese news portal Yicai Global, the joint venture was provided with a registered capital of 600 million yuan (about 75 million euros). While the share capital is known from the registration data of the new company, the shareholding ratios were not specified – so the distribution of power between the partners is not known.
The development of an electric aircraft has already begun at the COMAC Beijing Aircraft Technology Research Institute, but it is still in its infancy. It is not to be an eVTOL (electric vertical take-off aircraft), but a fixed-wing electric aircraft, as Yicai Global writes. However, it is not known how large this e-aircraft is to be – so many things are possible, from small two-seaters to regional aircraft to larger aircraft.
CATL is likely to contribute its ‘Condensed Battery’, which was presented in April and has an energy density of up to 500 Wh/kg at cell level, to the joint venture. The chief scientist of the battery manufacturer had previously stated that CATL was testing its “Condensed Battery” according to both automotive and aircraft standards.
At the Shanghai auto show, CATL had shown both a pouch cell and a prismatic cell in its presentation. Apart from the energy density, however, CATL hardly mentioned any technical data, but only wrote about innovation in “condensed matter”, a new separator foil, an unspecified “high-energy cathode” and a new type of anode. It remains unclear when such a battery can be built in series and at what cost, however.
At the state-owned aircraft builder COMAC, the project seems to have been classified as very important: according to the registration data, Qian Zhongyan is registered as the legal representative of the joint venture. Qian is the director of the COMAC Research Institute and was deputy chief designer of China’s first home-built large passenger aircraft, the C919.