CATL, BAIC & Xiaomi break ground on battery cell plant in Beijing

CATL, BAIC and Xiaomi Auto have officially started construction of their joint battery cell factory in Beijing. The three Chinese companies announced their intention to establish a joint venture called Beijing Era New Energy Technology earlier this year.

Image: CATL

According to an official announcement from CATL, the Jingneng Group – a state-owned company with a business focus on the energy sector – is also involved in the construction of the plant in Beijing alongside BAIC and Xiaomi. The four companies are “investing and building” together without disclosing further details about the planned production capacity, the type of cells or the schedule.

CATL, BAIC and Xiaomi agreed to invest one billion yuan (equivalent to around 128 million euros) in the joint venture in March this year. CATL is to hold a 51 per cent majority stake in the joint venture, while BAIC will hold 39 per cent and Xiaomi Auto five per cent. The joint venture will focus on the development, production and sale of lithium-ion batteries, power batteries and energy storage batteries, as well as the provision of related after-sales and technical consulting services.

CATL told Chinese media that upon completion, the site will supply battery products to automotive customers located in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, including BAIC, Xiaomi and Li Auto. For its part, BAIC was quoted by Car News China as saying that the investment was intended to ensure a stable supply of batteries for the company and improve the competitiveness of BAIC products.

BAIC also already has a close relationship with co-shareholder Xiaomi. Although the tech group, which has grown up with smartphones, has had its automotive production license since August, it has also partnered up with Xiaomi for the debut of the Xiomi SU7. Chinese media reported in November that although production takes place in Xiaomi’s factory in Beijing, staff from BAIC join the Xiaomi team at the site.

This is also not CATL’s first battery factory in Beijing, as plans for another plant were revealed in January of this year. Construction is to start before the year is out, and at the time of the announcement, it was already clear that Xiaomi was to use some of the batteries produced there for its Xiaomi SU7, which was just presented at the start of this year. Initially, the vehicle should be released in 2024, while another model is to follow in each of the following three years

BAIC and CATL have had a strategic partnership since spring 2023. The focus is on the joint development of battery products for electric vehicles.