Powerful CATL dominates electric car battery sector
But competition will intensify as government stops subsidies by end of 2020, say experts
Ningde, located in East China's Fujian province, might appear to be like any of the hundreds of small, mundane cities across the country, famous only to the fishing industry and the few foodies who appreciate its marine specialty: the yellow croaker.
In fact, however, Ningde is quickly becoming famous throughout the automotive segment, thanks to the success of a local electric vehicle battery maker, which in only a few years has grown from an ordinary fish in the hatchery of China's new energy vehicle market into a veritable sperm whale.
Established in 2011, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, or CATL, whose Chinese name literally means "the age of Ningde", has lived up to its name. By 2017, it had become the world's largest electric vehicle battery maker.
With batteries totaling 12 gigawatt-hours in the year, equivalent to 27 percent of the total produced in China, it dwarfed Japan's Panasonic and Warren Buffett-backed Chinese battery and electric car maker BYD.
The momentum continues. According to statistics from the GGII, a Chinese consulting firm, CATL's batteries totaled 23.52 GWh in 2018, up 122 percent year-on-year and representing a 41 percent share of the Chinese market, with the closest followers far behind.
So far it has spent billions of yuan to set up joint ventures with almost all major Chinese carmakers including Geely, SAIC and FAW, and the company's global customers now include BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen.