China’s CATL ready with battery that lasts more than a million miles

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Fears that an EV’s battery won’t last more than a decade of usage, especially with frequent high-speed recharging becoming popular, could soon be a thing of the past as companies develop batteries with million-mile ratings.

First out of the gates is China’s CATL, a supplier of batteries to multiple automakers including BMW, Geely, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen.

CATL is ready to start production of batteries that last 16 years and two million kilometers (approximately 1.24 million miles), Chairman Zeng Yuqun told Bloomberg in an interview published Sunday.

Although vehicles are rarely driven for such lengthy periods, it means we could see in the future the same battery used for multiple vehicles, similar to how an engine can be swapped today. It would mean less waste and potentially a market for second-hand batteries.

Zeng, who predicts the downturn in car sales caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic to end by 2021, said the long-lasting batteries would cost about 10% more than current batteries.

The first vehicle to use CATL’s new batteries will be the Tesla Model 3, Reuters reported in May.

CATL is also constructing a plant in Germany, its first outside of China, that will supply automakers building EVs in Europe. The plant is expected to be operational in 2022. In his interview with Bloomberg, Zeng said he was also open to a battery plant in the United States but said there were no such plans yet.

Other battery suppliers are close to readying similar long-lasting batteries. General Motors in May said it was close to developing its own battery that would last a million miles.

Battery suppliers, including CATL, are also developing battery cells with reduced cobalt and even some zero-cobalt designs, which could dramatically reduce costs. Cobalt is the most expensive material used in existing battery cells.

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