CATL considers U.S. plant, targets 45 percent energy-density boost in 5 years

China’s Contemporary Amerex Technology Co., better known as CATL, has in the past several years become a global battery giant. 

Last week one of its senior executives revealed to Reuters that the company is considering a manufacturing expansion into North America, even though the market for EVs will lag that of China and Europe. 

The company is already planning a battery “gigafactory” of its own in Erfurt, Germany—a facility that will start production in 2021 and be one of the largest battery plants in Europe.

The plant will make cells and modules, which is part of CATL’s plan to mastermind the whole pack and save size and weight. Through its cell-to-pack technology, it says it can increase mass energy density by 10-15 percent and increase volume utilization efficiency by 15-20 percent.

CATL products - 2019

CATL products – 2019

CATL announced firm numbers for the improvements. It can now accomplish more than 200 watt-hours per kilogram with its automotive lithium-ion batteries for EVS (up from 180 wh/kg).

Energy density with its current chemistries has reached 240 watt-hours per kilogram, and it’s targeting 350 wh/kg—a 45 percent improvement—by 2024. 

The battery company also announced that it’s working to improve its total battery life to 373,000 miles (600,000 km), with other improvements including uniform self-heating technology built into the battery for better cold-weather performance plus a “turbo charging solution” for larger (C/D-class) vehicles that would allow 0-80 percent charging in just 9 minutes. 

2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop

2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop

CATL recently announced a collaboration with Bosch, in which the battery supplier will supply cells for Bosch’s 48-volt systems globally. It’s already forged supply partnerships with Volkswagen, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Honda, and Toyota, and it will be making cells for upcoming BMW and VW models, as well as the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, at the plant in Germany. 

Earlier this summer it was reported that LG Chem was considering a second U.S. manufacturing plant to supply Volvo, among other potential customers. And earlier this year South Korean rival SK Innovation broke ground on a $1.7 billion battery plant in Georgia, expected to supply Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, among others.

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