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September 25, 2023
CATL exhibition display at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show.Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images News via Getty Images"
A week ago, the Republican chair of the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Jason Smith, queried Tesla CEO Elon Musk by letter about the company’s relationship with China-based battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL). According to Reuters, Tesla is CATL’s biggest customer.
In July, Smith and the Republican chair of the House Select Committee on China, Rep. Mike Gallagher, sent a similar query to the Ford Motor Company about its own relationship with CATL, and its plan to license CATL technology to manufacture EV batteries in a plant to be built in Marshall, MI.
The letter addressed to Ford expressed concern that the agreement might enable the partial onshoring of battery technology, resources, and personnel under the control of China’s government. This could potentially result in the accumulation of tax credits and the channeling of funds back to CATL through the licensing arrangement. Ford told Reuters that the new plant will be owned and solely controlled by Ford, “a proud American company.”
CATL as a technology leader
There are good business reasons for US companies Tesla and Ford to pursue relations with CATL, as have automakers in Europe and Asia.
As the global automotive industry accelerates its transition towards electrification, CATL has significantly separated itself from the rest of the pack. Founded in 2011, the Chinese firm has rapidly ascended the ranks to become the world's largest manufacturer of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, commanding a staggering 36% of the global market share.
CATL's rise to prominence is a testament to its innovation, quality, and geopolitical importance. On the technological front, CATL has been a trailblazer in developing a variety of lithium-ion batteries, including Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) and Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM). Their batteries are also designed with modularity in mind, offering a level of flexibility that is crucial for automakers. This allows manufacturers to integrate CATL's batteries into a diverse range of electric models without the need for extensive re-engineering.
On the geopolitical stage, CATL is an important figure in the Chinese economy. China has been aggressively promoting its domestic EV industry in recent years as part of its broader economic and environmental strategy. CATL's success, therefore, aligns perfectly with Beijing's ambitions to be a global leader in sustainable technology.
Customers around the globe
On a global scale, CATL maintains strategic alliances with global automakers like BMW and Volvo as well as Tesla and, more recently, Ford. A large aspect of these partnerships is CATL's extensive manufacturing capabilities. CATL's expansive manufacturing capabilities and its critical role in the global supply chain make it a strategic asset not just for China but for the global automotive industry. Any disruption in CATL's operations could have a cascading effect on automakers worldwide.
As a testament to CATL’s growing importance, we’re going to look at eight notable EVs that are (or will soon be) powered by CATL’s battery technology. Read on to learn about eight EVs with batteries sourced from CATL.
About the Author(s)
Jake Hertz is an Electrical Engineer, Technical Writer, and Public Relations Specialist. After he received his M.S. and B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Rochester, he spent three years working as an Electrical Engineer at MakerBot Industries.
As a writer, Jake is well known for his frequent contributions to various engineering websites, where he has garnered readership in the tens of thousands. Through his business, NanoHertz Solutions, Jake works with cutting-edge companies in the hardware and semiconductor space to build industry buzz and awareness through Public Relations and Technical Writing services.
As an engineer, Jake now works with numerous startups to help develop their hardware products. He is also a Co-Founder of Origin Labs, a NYC-based design firm for tech startups in the hardware space.
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