CATL starts production of battery cells in Germany

The world’s largest EV battery supplier with a market share of 33% in 2022, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), has kicked off serial production at its new lithium-ion battery cell plant in Thuringia, Germany.

It’s the first battery factory of CATL operational outside of China, with an initial manufacturing capacity estimated at 8 Gigawatt hours per year. That should be beefed up to 14 GWh later. At the same time, the Chinese are building a second 100 GWh battery plant in Debrecen in the eastern part of Hungary.

Germany’s first operational EV battery plant

The Thuringia plant baptized CATT, and Germany’s first battery factory was announced in 2018 after CATL reeled in a significant order from BMW for the following years. Still, meanwhile, the list of European clients is extended with names like Volkswagen, Daimler, Volvo, and Bosch.

Construction of the new factory started in October 2019. In April 2022, CATL received the 2nd partial approval for commissioning the new plant for battery cell production from the German state of Thuringia. Now the factory has started production ‘as scheduled’.

“The production kickoff proves that we kept our promise to our customers as a reliable partner of the industry, and we stay committed to Europe’s e-mobility transition even under very challenging conditions like the pandemic,” said Matthias Zentgraf, President of CATL Europe. Now scaling up will be the priority, with an estimated 2 000 people working there by 2024-2025.

Second factory in Hungary

For its first European battery plant, CATL invested some 1,8 billion euros. But the second one, in Debrecen, in the eastern part of Hungary, has a price tag of 7,34 billion euros. Covering an area of 221 hectares in the Southern Industrial Park of Debrecen, the CATL project will supply cells and modules to several European automakers, starting with Mercedes-Benz.

CATL will provide battery cells for EV production at the European production sites of Mercedes-Benz in Germany and Hungary. The German carmaker will be the biggest client here.

Mercedes-Benz says it relies on a modular, highly standardized battery kit that allows the integration of battery cells and modules from different development partners through uniformly designed components and interfaces.

Searching for 200 GWh production capacity

For Mercedes-Benz, the deal with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited is another milestone in reaching a production capacity of more than 200 GWh at eight global production sites by the end of the decade.

In March this year, Mercedes acquired a third of the Automotive Cells Company (ACC) shares as an equal partner, a joint venture with Stellantis and Saft (TotalEnergies). ACC also announced that it would increase its output to 120 Gigawatt hours per year across its entire production chain. The joint venture will build a third factory in Italy to meet that target.





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