In-Depth Look At CATL’s Massive Battery Factory In Germany

AUG 11 2018 BY MARK KANE 43

Tesla has a real challenger here

More details appear on the Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) lithium-ion battery plant in Thuringia, Germany announced by the way of a €4 billion (€4.7 billion) deal with BMW.

Visualisation of CATL battery plant in Thuringia, Germany

The new factory will have capacity of 14 GWh annually, which is more than the 11.84 GWh that CATL sold in 2017.

CATL’s sales in 2015 and 2016 was 2.19 GWh and 6.8 GWh.

Full-scale production could suffice for some quarter of a million of long-range electric cars.

The investment through 2022 is to be €240 million ($281 million). The plant is to be located on a 70-hectare site in the industrial area Erfurt Cross.

It’s expected that besides BMW, CATL will supply batteries for Daimler and Volkswagen. The list of customers in China is much longer:

  • BAIC
  • SAIC
  • Geely
  • Changan
  • GAC
  • Great Wall
  • DFM
  • NIO
  • Yutong Bus
  • Zhongtong Bus
  • King Long Motor
  • CRRC

An important part of the investment will be battery R&D:

“Europe is one of CATL’s key regions for its strategic growth. With the opening of the production facility in Germany, the company underlines the importance of the German market. The decision for Germany fell, among other things, to:

  • Proximity to the customer, to understand local market requirements and to respond more quickly to customer needs;
  • Offering BMW, Daimler and VW locally produced solutions; and
  • European knowledge in battery manufacturing.

The plant in Thuringia is planned as an independent company with production, research and development as well as logistics.”

Source: Green Car Congress

Categories: Battery Tech

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43 Comments on "In-Depth Look At CATL’s Massive Battery Factory In Germany"

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Definitely putting money where their mouth is. Perhaps all those criticizing BMW’s electrification efforts will finally shut up.

That is enough for 150-200k long range BEVs. It’s not peanuts, but it’s only a start.

^^ this.

14 GWh annually split between many customers is not exactly what I’d call “competition” for Tesla’s Gigafactory 1, which is planned to eventually produce 35 GWh annually just for Tesla’s three current models.

If that’s competition for Tesla — or BYD — it’s pretty low-level.

That said, I’m glad to finally see at least one legacy auto maker is spending real money on ensuring a supply of EV battery cells, even if that’s only a start compared to what they’ll need in a few short years.

It is great that they are starting. When people predict how many EVs will be done or all the “wait until the old dogs sweeps Tesla and the Chinese startups off their feet” it is just so easy to follow the money…or in this case just follow the batteries to see what is just hot air and what will actually be made.

Tesla currently has double that capacity at GF1(28GWh), it produced at a rate of 20 GWh at the end of June, and Panasonic plans to have 35 GWh of capacity by end of 2018.

Full capacity of cells is 105 GWh and pack production at 150 GWh in 2020-21, the difference is imported cells from Japan.

BMW, if capacity comes on line and they have access to 14 GWh, is no joke. But not serious competition to Tesla.

While Tesla at one point claimed they will make 150 GWh of packs (I’m not sure they ever explicitly mentioned cell capacity in the “update”) at Gigafactory 1 in 2020, IIRC most recently they mentioned that it will only reach full capacity by 2022… Indeed I don’t think their current and upcoming projects would warrant anything close to 150 GWh in 2020.

Pretty big number either way, though 🙂

500k Model 3 = ~~35 GWh.
100k Model S/X = ~9 GWh
700k Model Y = ~ 50 GWh

Energy storage growing from ~2 GWh to ~10 GWh

This could maybe be done until 2021, just over 100 GWh.

100k Tesla Semi = ~70 GWh
50k Roadsters = 5-10 GWh

This could be on the way in 2021, maybe partially there or starting to ramp up.

Tesla Pickup = TDB.

But as you say it will be closer to 2022 than 2020. The time frame is really the only big variable here. Anyway it will not take too long until the capacity of GF1 is used up. But by then the Chinese factory is probably up and running with its own cell and pack production and the Semi might get it’s own separate place and cells/packs.
It is getting massive….

Neither BMW, VW, nor MB have a single source strategy. They source from Samsung already and others will be in the mix. If there is demand, CATL will also build additional supply. Not sure why people are so stuck up with this single Tesla factory and it’s size. Also Panasonic will soon want to be not stuck with the fate of a single customer, otherwise it’s the end for them.

Why? Because for the next few years it will be all about batteries, batteries and batteries. Already having the location and plan for ~2 million vehicles (minus whatever will be used for energy storage and such but vehicle demand will always be prioritized).

Panasonic seems to be lining up another small customer in Toyota… Possible the number one and number two in the EV business once Toyota actually decides to get serious and not live in the past.

Toyota is maybe a “small” customer compared to Tesla, but not exactly small in absolute terms. The Prius and other hybrid batteries are tiny, but they make a *lot* of them.

Sorry… I forgot the “”, it was supposed to be “small” in my comment. They are not doing a lot of EVs now but with 10 million vehicles per year it will grow fast once they decide to start. As I wrote, Tesla and Toyota might become the number one and number two in the business if Toyota gets serious.

While obviously undesirable, I don’t think it’s unusual for a supplier to be dependent on one major customer?…

At any rate, it’s not “the end for them”. Not as long as the single customer buys enough for Panasonic to be able to remain among the leaders in terms of technology, and thus doesn’t lose that single customer.

14 GWh is indeed not much to challenge Tesla; but add to that several other factories of similar scale from other suppliers in Poland and Hungary, as well as several factories in Asia exporting cells — together, that puts them on a similar order at least. Clearly not enough to drown Tesla in the near future, as the shorters are claiming; but certainly some noticeable competition.

Not sure why you’d bring up BYD, considering that their sales outside China are negligible; while within China, last I heard CATL had more capacity under construction than BYD — and together with other Chinese makers, several times more than them.

However those batteries are spread between 15 customers. Thus no single company will be able to amass enough product to challenge Tesla.

None of the customers in the bullet point list produce cars in Europe. It’s just VW, MB, and BMW, which by the way also have other suppliers

That’s basically in the exact middle of Germany.

CATL roadmap is quite impressive with a high energy density cell
Target to reach 300Wh/kg for pouch cell on next year


That’s a pretty interesting presentation. The integrated cooling scheme seemed interesting as well. It’s a bit hard to tell but it looks like they’re using a double cooling plate so the Prismatic cells not only are cool down the Bottom by a plate but it looks like there’s a plate sitting on top as well.

As you probably already know GM and the I pace all use prismatics with bottom cooling plates but this business of putting a cooling plate on top seems like it would solve a lot of the problems with heat transfer of just having one plate on the bottom.

That’s if I’ve interpreted the slide correctly.

Thanks for your message, GM and JLR use pouch cell from LG, prismatic cell are used on BMW i3 and VW e-golf.
You can compare the battery specs for the EV vehicle on this thread

For the next plateform BMW will continue to use the prismatic cell.

Prismatic heat inside, Leaf/AESC cells under the front seats heated the most.

The Nissan Leaf use pouch cell from AESC and not prismatic. Thermal issue is due to the passive thermal management on Nissan Leaf not to the technology of the cell used.

I can’t really make out anything useful from these pictures. In general, tab cooling is known to be way more effective; but posing serious practical challenges. If they have a workable solution for that, it would indeed be a significant step forward.

Anyone can put up an impressive roadmap… Will be interesting to see what they can actually deliver 🙂

They already can deliver prismatic cell at 160Ah where SDI provide cell on same package at 120Ah (cell used on next version of i3)
For SDI the 150Ah will be the next target after 120Ah

See below the roadmap for SDI:

That’s not an actual roadmap — that’s a pure guess from the authors of the study it comes from.

As for the supposed CATL 160 Ah cell, it is *not* the same format — and IIRC it was just a future projection anyway, not something they are already delivering.

Tesla is better, easy win for Elon.

what a post…. try: “musk is god” next time 😉

Another Euro point of view

God I dont know but some saw him walking on water.
No kidding.

Tesla has yet to turn a profit. Do you realize BMW is the largest U.S. exporter of vehicles by value? They were averaging over 1000 cars per day! Again, don’t underestimate their capabilities.

How many years, do you think, before they are overtaken by Tesla? 🙂

Tesla won’t ever make profits like BMW.

We never can predict what could happen in 15 years. Maybe EVs are 75% of the market by then. Who can make it cheaper with the highest computing density for human-level AI interaction in the car ?. Swamp learning AI in multiple cars ensuring safety, all predicting seconds ahead in time.
I will put money on Tesla. BMW might be able to do plenty carbon fibre but Tesla using nano-plastics additive process would be way cheaper, faster and better…

With Trump’s trade war, I don’t think BMW will keep exporting vehicles from the US for long…

Oh, the irony 😀

Why Germany ?. What was unsaid, to leverage China’s rare-earth materials needed for battery production. Lithium, Cobalt, Manganese etc. Also China’s ability to source/mine those with their partners in other countries in Africa, Australia, etc.

Well educated workforce in Germany, stable government, a lot of customers in the country. Germany is a good choice.

Your customers are there?!

Batteries do not use any rare earth minerals.

(Permanent magnet motors do.)

How are those few lines an „In-Depth Look At CATL’s Massive Battery Factory In Germany“.

This is the art of news about nothing.

“Expected that […] CATL will supply batteries for Daimler and Volkswagen”? That a bold statement. While CATL supplies batteries to their Chinese joint-ventures, and apparently *hopes* to win the German parent companies as customers in Europe as well, to the best of my knowledge there is no hint yet of that actually happening.

The ability of the Korean Samsung SDI battery cell is
Is it similar to China’s CATL?

Cells are from the United States and Korea, and each type of battery can is from Japan?
Who takes the money after finishing all the processing in China?

quick question…where is the supply metals coming from ? ie, cobalt,nickel…copper?