Mainly Promotion of QINTESSA battery, Large Cylindrical Cell Already Developed
On March 24th, CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited) held its 2022 performance online briefing, where the company discussed the progress on the large cylindrical cell, solid-state battery, their attitude towards battery manufacturing for car manufacturers, super wires, and others.
CATL’s chairman and general manager, Zeng Yuqun, stated that the QINTESSA battery, with its superiority in energy density, safety, fast charging, and cycle life, far exceeds domestic and foreign competitors such as the 4680 large cylindrical cell, and it is one of the company’s main directions. Additionally, “for special application requirements of individual clients, the company has successfully developed cylindrical cells such as the 4680 and 4695. Comparing year-on-year tests, our large cylindrical cell’s cycle life is more than three times that of our domestic and foreign competitors. In terms of energy density, it surpasses our competitors by more than 10%, and the safety performance is far superior to our competitors, approaching QINTESSA battery.”
Prior to the online briefing, CATL revealed during a conference call that they had already signed a supply agreement of cylindrical cell products with BMW.
Compared to cylindrical cells, CATL mainly promotes the QINTESSA battery. When talking about the QINTESSA battery’s customer base, Zeng Yuqun stated, “No QINTESSA, no high-end.” CATL believes that high-quality development of high-end car models will rely on the QINTESSA battery; not long ago, CATL announced that the QINTESSA battery has already entered mass production.
Battery Manufacturing for Car Makers, Squeezing Second and Third-Tier Battery Factories
CATL is not concerned about car manufacturers manufacturing batteries.
According to Zeng Yuqun, from the perspective of guaranteeing supply, car manufacturers may manufacture part of the batteries. However, as the world’s leading independent third-party battery supplier, CATL can provide the most competitive performance, the most cost-effective, and more diversified products and solutions to the entire market, and can provide primary battery supplies for important car manufacturer customers. “Generally, car manufacturers building their battery production capacity will squeeze out the second and third-tier battery factories.”
Regarding downstream expansion, Zeng Yuqun set the limit for battery production. He stated, “We will do basic work for car manufacturing companies through the promotion of CTC (CATL Tech Center). We will not manufacture cars, and at the same time, we will continuously innovate business models and expand around the battery service industry.”
Do Not Want to Profit from Lithium Mines## NMC Cobalt-free Battery： Future Development Direction
Regarding the company’s “lithium mine rebate” plan, Zeng Yuqun responded that “we are promoting communication with long-term strategic customers. This action is not about reducing prices, but gaining some mineral resources and not wanting to earn excessive profits, but sharing them with long-term strategic customers.”
Zeng Yuqun believes that if the “lithium mine rebate” plan can be successfully implemented, it will be beneficial to customers and the industry. The company’s own minerals can cover the lithium salt equivalent involved in this action, and it will still maintain a reasonable level of profit.
All-solid-state Battery Technology is Not Feasible
When it comes to solid-state batteries, Zeng Yuqun believes it is still far away. Zeng Yuqun said, “Currently, there are many technical forms in the industry’s research and development direction, such as all-solid-state, semi-solid-state (semi-liquid) batteries, etc., but there are still many scientific and technological basic issues that have not been resolved. The company has been deeply engaged in this area for more than 10 years, and still believes that it is difficult to form a technology-feasible and market-competitive product. Just like some technologies that were shouted in the industry several years ago, such as graphene batteries, they have not really landed.”
In Zeng Yuqun’s view, compared with all-solid-state batteries, its condensed-state batteries can achieve mass production faster and realize high specific energy and high safety.
Super Line: Defect Rate Reaches DPPB Level
When asked about the super line (meaning super production line, which means that production capacity and efficiency are doubled, with lower manufacturing costs and unit investment) by investors, Zeng Yuqun introduced that the super line is the experience accumulated by CATL’s past 7th-generation production lines, with technology and equipment greatly upgraded to cast the eighth-generation super intelligent manufacturing line-PSL, which achieves competitiveness and a significant lead. “The number of personnel has decreased by 70%, the speed has increased by 300%, and it has super flexibility and one-key replacement. This is another major leap on the basis of advanced practice in CATL’s Ningde lighthouse factory, which greatly improves product quality and consistency. The product unit defect rate reaches the DPPB (one billionth) level.”
Zeng Yuqun said that CATL has profound knowledge accumulation and patent barriers in the super line.
Call for Energy Storage Batteries to Achieve Nuclear Power Level Safety
Regarding energy storage, Zeng Yuqun said that “the biggest feature of energy storage is that the calendar life and cycle life must exceed 20 years, and the energy storage large system, a 1GWh energy storage power station, exceeds 1.5 million battery cells, so the requirement for product consistency is more than 10,000 times that of automotive power batteries (4 orders of magnitude), and often cannot be seen in the initial delivery. Poor-quality products will cause huge losses to owners in terms of safety and finance. Looking at some similar products of competitors, frequent fires occur overseas, which reflects the above-mentioned hidden dangers.”
According to public reports, there have been as many as 7 to 80 incidents of fire in global energy storage stations over the past 10 years, and the safety of electrochemical energy storage has become a concern of the public. “We call on Energy Storage Stations to learn from the safety concept of nuclear power from the aspects of design, selection, construction, operation and maintenance, and scrapping and recycling. A safety classification evaluation system for battery energy storage systems based on failure probability should be established, and the system should be included in the bidding conditions for major projects to guide the high-quality development of battery energy storage towards ‘nuclear power grade safety’,” said Zeng Yuqun.
In Zeng Yuqun’s opinion, overseas customers have already recognized the above problems, so they value the supplier’s long-term performance guarantee, product quality, and local service ，and are more concerned about the supplier’s comprehensive strength. CATL benefits from its foresighted and extensive layout in the overseas energy storage market, relying on the company’s strength, technological advantages, and brand influence. The company started cultivating the overseas market in 2018 and has already matched multiple large photovoltaic energy storage projects in 2021, with a single project scale of nearly GWh.
In 2022, CATL launched new products such as EnerC, which has high charging and discharging efficiency, long life, high integration, high safety, and is tailored for all-weather scenarios. It has obtained UL Solution’s latest version of the full-range UL 9540A test report certification for battery cells, cabinets, and container levels, and quickly matched a large number of energy storage projects, leading the way with single-project scale of more than GWh, forming a good demonstration effect and customer word-of-mouth.
As of now, CATL has supplied more than 100 energy storage projects worldwide, covering 45 countries and regions around the world, and has signed long-term cooperation agreements with partners such as Tesla, Fluence, Wärtsilä, Flexgen, Sungrow, ENEL, Primergy, Broad Reach Power, Gresham House, and Brookfield.
To this end, CATL has established over 500 comprehensive service stations worldwide, equipped with more than 20 regional warehouses, and covering applications in both vehicles and energy storage.## Bullish on Lithium Battery Recycling Business
Zeng Yuqun is very optimistic about the future of battery recycling. He believes that energy sources such as oil and coal are determined by natural endowment and are one-time consumption resources. “The excellence of lithium batteries is that we can achieve 90%+ recovery rate in metal recycling, so we turn natural endowment into manufacturing endowment. Manufacturing is also our advantage. Therefore, the prospect of recycling is very bright and it is the only way for sustainable and high-quality development.”
“Someday in the future when all batteries are recycled, our reliance on natural endowment will be greatly reduced, highlighting our advantage in manufacturing and contributing to the intensive development of human energy and resources.” Zeng Yuqun said.
Perhaps it is due to the optimism about the future of battery recycling that CATL is not particularly active in its layout of overseas mineral resources. “At the performance communication meeting, Zeng Yuqun did not deny the reduction of shares in Australian lithium mining producer Pilbara Minerals, and said that ‘the transaction is a comprehensive arrangement made by the company according to business development and market conditions. The funds raised will be used for the company’s production and operation.'”
In addition, Zeng Yuqun also stated that “CATL is promoting the battery passport, which is a data twin product of batteries, to reassure consumers, understand the past and present of their own batteries, and compare the good and bad of batteries in the market clearly.”
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.