Battery giant CATL ready to make million-mile, 16-year batteries for more than Tesla

The battery field is moving so quickly that the idea of the million-mile battery seemed far out just a year ago.

Now it’s within sight—likely in the next few years—for Tesla and General Motors, among others, and supplier CATL has revealed that it’s not exclusive to a particular automaker’s R&D department.

CATL has developed a battery pack that will last 16 years or 2 million kilometers (1.24 million miles), and will offer it to any interested automaker, chairman Zeng Yuqun said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“If someone places an order, we are ready to produce,” Zeng said, without disclosing whether any supply contracts with automakers were already in place.

The million-mile battery will cost only about 10% more than batteries in current electric cars, Zeng said. That premium isn’t as daunting as it sounds, because lithium-ion battery prices have been falling rapidly; according to Bloomberg New Energy finance they fell 13% on a pack basis just from 2018 to 2019.

Tesla starts delivery of Chinese-made Model 3 sedans on December 30, 2019

Tesla starts delivery of Chinese-made Model 3 sedans on December 30, 2019

CATL currently supplies batteries to Tesla for use in cars produced in China. CATL is adding a production facility in Germany that will make more than 70% of batteries for BMW, according to Bloomberg. CATL also works with Audi and Porsche.

Zeng didn’t rule out building a battery factory in the United States, but told Bloomberg that there are no specific plans at this time.

Million-mile batteries could help assure a value for the battery when the car is retired. The result might be an improvement in EV costs from both ends to the consumer—both with lower sticker prices and lower depreciation.

Several automakers have discussed so-called “second-life” uses of battery packs for energy storage after a first life powering cars. Million-mile batteries would have a greater lifespan for these applications, increasing the value of the batteries.

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