China is pushing to expand its battery production capacity three times that of global electric vehicle (EV) battery shipments in 2018. As China has an ambition to secure leadership in the EV battery industry based on economies of scale, Korean EV battery manufacturers, which are ahead in technological prowess, are expected to face stiff competition from their Chinese rivals.
Major Chinese EV battery makers such as China CATL and BYD were reportedly pushing forward with the expansion of 300 GWh EV battery production facilities, said foreign media companies such as Battery China on April 9. The figure represents three times the size of the world EV battery market in 2018, which is estimated at 97 GWh by SNE Research.
First of all, CATL, the world's No. 1 EV battery maker, plans to ramp up the production capacity of its new battery factory in Germany to 100 GWh. The second-ranking BYD started the construction of a factory with an annual capacity of 20 GWh in Chongqing, Chia by investing 10 billion yuan (about 1.69 trillion won) in February.
Moreover, EVE Energy invested 3 billion yuan in March to construct a 6 GWh EV battery plant. Wanxiang put forward a plan to invest 68 billion yuan in a project to build a fully automatic 80 GWh production line in Hangzhou last month. Xinwangda will shell out 12 billion yuan in cooperation with Nanjing City with a view to build a 30 GWh battery R&D and production complex.
On top of that, AESC has decided to launch a high-quality 20 GWh three material-based battery production project with 22 billion yuan and other companies are planning to expand their production capacities of 29.5 GWh.
The total size has reached about 120 billion yuan (about 20.4 trillion won). This hints at how strong China’s will to promote its EV battery industry is.
In Korea, the domestic market is small so Korean EV battery makers depend heavily on overseas markets. Recently, the Chinese government issued type approval to electric vehicles powered by LG Chem and Samsung SDI batteries, the first time since 2016. This boosted the possibility of Korean EV battery makers being allowed to compete in the Chinese market.
However, EV battery industry observes point out that the growth of Chinese companies has been so significant that Korean EV battery makers may face stiffer competition with their Chinese competitors in North America and Europe where domestic companies are taking the lead.