CATL considers big expansion for German battery plant

Automotive News Europe

Automotive News | 2019-3-5

BOCHUM, Germany -- Contemporary Amperex Technology, one of China's largest suppliers of battery cells, is considering expanding its German plant to make it one of the worldĄŻs largest, amid higher expected demand for electric vehicles.

CATL is discussing whether to nearly double the size of its upcoming factory in Erfurt to provide 100 gigawatt-hours of cell supply.

This would dwarf anything under discussion in Europe, and potentially in the rest of the world.

The EU's 2030 target to cut carbon dioxide fleet emissions from new cars by 37.5 percent compared with 2021 and other factors prompted automakers to plan for a higher, more aggressive, ramp-up of EVs, said Matthias Zentgraf, president of CATL Europe.

"ThatĄŻs why we've seen newĄ± requests for quotations, he said on the sidelines of the annual CAR Symposium in Bochum.

Volkswagen Group has estimated it alone needs 150 GWh of cell supply by 2025 to sell a forecast 3 million battery-electric vehicles that year.

Under the previous plan, CATL Europe planned to invest 240 million euros (1.82 billion yuan at current exchange rates) for around 14 GWh of supply in a first phase. By the middle of the next decade, it sought to expand to 50-60 GWh. The capacity can vary in part depending on the share of larger cell size formats produced.

Its new "dynamic capacity planning" foresees a gigawatt-hour supply in the triple digits annually, requiring four fully loaded 40-foot containers leaving the plant on trucks every hour.

Zentgraf said the state government in Thuringia, in the economically depressed eastern half of Germany, was supporting the company.

Another option, he said, would be to build up a second site elsewhere. CATL had scouted various sites in Europe, including ones in Belgium and Hungary, before settling on Erfurt in part because of a more stable political environment and closer proximity to German automakers.

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