CATL shows some extreme expansion pace, as its latest lithium-ion battery plant in Lingang, Shanghai, China reportedly started production.
We first heard about the project in June 2021, when Reuters reported about 80 GWh battery plant that CATL intendeds to build in Shanghai. Later in the same month, Tesla signed a new supply deal with CATL that would run from January 2022 to December 2025.
In October, Tesla announced also that it would switch all its standard range vehicles to LFP batteries. There were also new rumors that Tesla had ordered 45 GWh of CATL's LFP batteries, but without further info whether it's annual volume or total over a longer period.
Anyway, here we are in January 2022, and according to media reports (via CnEVPost), CATL's new battery plant is ramping-up production and already achieved 60% of undisclosed target capacity.
The local media outlet Shanghai Observer reported that the new plant started sending batteries to Tesla in November. We are assuming that those are LFP cells.
It was possible to start within several months because it's not a new facility. CATL has basically adapted an existing site that is located just 3 km from the Tesla Giga Shanghai. Only minor modifications were required and, of course, installation of battery manufacturing lines.
Tesla is expected to be the main customer for the plant, although it may be used also to supply batteries for other customers - as we understand.
The new plant will include "a global innovation center, an international functional headquarters, a future energy research institute and a high-end manufacturing base."
Here is how the site was looking in October 2021:
The new CATL gigafactory near Tesla's plant is a clear sign that the partnership between the two is quickly expanding.
We guess that Tesla Giga Shanghai will mainly produce LFP-powered cars, while the top of the line versions are still powered by LG Chem's LG Energy Solution NCM/NCMA batteries.