The world's largest electric vehicle battery manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), has received the second partial approval for the commissioning of a new cell plant in Thuringia, a state in the eastern part of Germany.
CATL's first battery cell production facility outside of China will have an initial capacity of 8 GWh per year, with plans to increase it to 14 GWh over time.
The Chinese battery maker broke ground on Germany's first battery cell factory in 2019 at the Erfurter Kreuz industrial area in Amt Wachsenburg, Thuringia. Construction of the plant is now in the final stage and the installation of machines is in full swing.
The company expects the first cells to roll off the assembly lines by the end of 2022, when the plant will employ some 1,500 people. Eventually, the Chinese battery giant plants to achieve a production capacity of 14 GWh and create 2,000 jobs in Germany after a total investment of €1.8 billion ($2 billion).
The site consists of two buildings: G1, an existing building purchased from another company and where cells are assembled to modules, and G2, a newly-built plant where cells will be produced. The approval on Monday was issued to permit cell production in the G2 building.
CATL's German subsidiary operates as Contemporary Amperex Technology Thuringia GmbH (CATT).
"CATT provides a fundamental impetus for the urgently needed energy transition, and we are glad to be the first company to receive approval to manufacture batteries 'Made in Germany.'"
Matthias Zentgraf, CATL's President for Europe
CATL says the plant is almost as complex as a chip factory, featuring clean rooms, technical cleanliness and constant humidity. The factory generates part of its power from the solar power panels on the rooftop of the building.
The new battery cell manufacturing facility in Germany marks a significant milestone for CATL's global footprint expansion. It remains to be seen whether the Thuringia factory will supply Tesla's new Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, located some 330 kilometers northeast.
CATL is one of Tesla's main battery cell suppliers, especially in China where the battery packs of the Shanghai-made Model 3 and Model Y EVs mostly feature CATL's lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells.