China's CATL revs up EV battery production following Tesla deal

GUANGZHOU -- China's biggest electric vehicle battery maker, CATL, will invest up to 26 billion yuan ($3.7 billion) to quadruple its production capacity for lithium-ion batteries used in cars and storage systems.

Annual production capacity at a plant in Ningde, Fujian Province, where the company is headquartered, will be increased by 16 gigawatt-hours, the battery maker said Wednesday.

Capacity at a factory in Jiangsu Province will go up by 24 gigawatt-hours. And a new plant with a capacity of 12 gigawatt-hours will open in Sichuan Province. The new equipment at these facilities will go online in two to three years.

The investment at the three locations will total 16 billion yuan. To finance the expansion and to secure research and operating funds, the company plans to raise up to 20 billion yuan soon by issuing new shares.

CATL will also spend up to 10 billion yuan to build a lithium-ion battery factory in Ningde. Although it did not disclose details, local media report that the facility will have a capacity of 45 gigawatt-hours and will start operations in 2021 or later.

The move comes following an announcement this month of plans to supply batteries to Tesla.

CATL, which is short for Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., is currently building its first overseas plant in Germany. Mass production at the facility, which will have a capacity of 14 gigawatt-hours, will start as early as 2022.

CATL shipped 32.5 gigawatt-hours equivalents of automotive lithium-ion batteries in 2019, making it the industry leader with a global share of 28%, according to South Korea's SNE Research. It supplies a broad range of customers from domestic automakers to Germany's Volkswagen and Daimler and has partnerships in battery development with Toyota Motor and Honda Motor.

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