Battery manufacturing giant CATL announced on June 17 that the first phase of its major manufacturing base in the Chinese province of Sichuan has formally entered operation. The base is located in Yibin, a prefecture-level city within the province, and controlled by a local subsidiary of the company. The base will be used to manufacture batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
Commenting on the event, Robin Zeng, chairman of CATL, said that the Yibin base will play a key role in carrying out his company’s global strategy. Due to its location in Southwest China, the base will be very critical to traction battery production following its completion. Zeng expects the base to significantly raise the company’s overall efficiency with respect to supplying batteries and providing services to vehicle manufacturers in China and other countries. It will be CATL’s most important production base for traction and energy storage batteries.
In September 2019, CATL entered an agreement with the municipal government of Yibin to build a major manufacturing base in the Lingang Economic and Technological Development Zone of the city. According to reporting by local media and other news outlets, the development of the project will be divided into six phases. CATL is expected to invest around RMB 30 billion to complete the entire base, which spans across an area of 3,000 mu. The construction of the base began at the end of 2019.
The development of the first phase has been further divided into two stages or two production lines that both have annual production capacity of 15GWh for batteries used in electric vehicles. The first stage is estimated to have cost RMB 4.5 billion, whereas the second stage is estimated to have cost RMB 5.5 billion. The entire first phase has an area of around 1,000 mu and is estimated to have cost RMB 10 billion. It has taken less than 26 months for the first phase to advance from construction to operation. As for the second phase, it is scheduled to begin operation two years after the completion of the first phase.
CATL also said that Yibin has an excellent transportation system. Batteries from the production lines located in the city can be shipped to the vehicle assembly plants in Chengdu or Chongqing within three hours. Hence, the completion of the Yibin base will be a major improvement in the company’s logistics. Moreover, the nearby hydroelectric dam provides abundant power that meets CATL’s need to reduce carbon emissions in its battery production and attain carbon neutrality for the lifecycle of its traction batteries.
Besides expanding production capacity in China, CATL is also building its first overseas battery manufacturing plant in the German city of Erfurt. This plant, which reuses the factory building formerly owned by Solarworld, is scheduled to enter operation in 2022. CATL aims to raise its total battery production capacity to 230GWh by the end of 2021.