The latest media reports from China say that CATL began series production of its new Qilin battery systems.
According to The Paper (via CnEVPost), the company launched mass production to support the upcoming launch of the all-electric Zeekr 009 model (in Q2 2023), which will be the first model, equipped with the Qilin battery.
The Qilin battery (English "Kirin") is considered a noticeable upgrade, compared to the already successful CATL's battery systems. As we described before, it's essentially the third generation of CATL's cell-to-pack (CTP) battery system, which might consist of prismatic lithium-ion cells (LFP or NCM chemistry) to achieve much higher energy density - up to 255 Wh/kg (pack level), in the case of NCM version.
That's enough to target a range of 622 miles (1,000 km) under the optimistic CLTC test cycle (probably at least 20 percent less in the WLTP/EPA test cycles).
The Zeekr 009 model will be available with a 140-kilowatt-hour (kWh) CATL Qilin battery and offer a driving range of 511 miles (822 km) under the CLTC test cycle. That's a pretty strong number for an MPV. There will be also a 116-kWh version, but with a different battery system, with a range of 436 miles (702 km).
The true potential of the CATL Qilin battery system will be unleashed by the new version of the Zeekr 001 model, which is promised to offer 622 miles (1,000 km) of range, as the first series-produced model. Of course, all the numbers relate to the CLTC test cycle.
There are also other manufacturers awaiting the CATL's latest battery tech. For example, the Aito premium EV brand - backed by Huawei - signed up for the Qilin battery.
We have to wait for the independent range test to be able to truly evaluate how significant the Qilin battery is, but it might be competitive with the current state-of-the-art batteries in long-range BEVs. A lot will depend on costs too.
CATL says that its product offers 13 percent more power than the 4680-type battery system (same cell chemistry and pack capacity), and a higher volumetric integration (72% vs 63%), as well as better thermal efficiency and faster charging.