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Battery leader CATL picks Germany for first overseas plant

Chinese company will supply automakers like BMW and Volkswagen

Flags flutter at BMW headquarters in Munich. CATL will supply batteries to the German automaker.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., the world's largest manufacturer of electric-vehicle batteries, will establish its first factory outside China in Germany.

Top executives of the Chinese company, known as CATL, met with officials of the state of Thuringia on Monday and signed a contract for the plant construction.

The factory will begin producing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles in 2021, aiming to ramp up production to 14 gigawatt-hours of batteries in 2022 -- more than the 12GWh CATL produced globally in 2017. The project is expected to create about 600 jobs. The company will likely invest more than $1 billion.

German luxury carmaker BMW has agreed to procure batteries from CATL, and the Chinese company plans to supply a broad range of customers, including Volkswagen, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover and Groupe PSA.

With electric vehicles expected to take off in Europe, the company is ready to spend hefty sums in Germany.

CATL overtook Panasonic last year as the largest supplier of electric-vehicle batteries. Founded in 2011, the young company has grown rapidly. It had drawn much attention as a unicorn -- an unlisted company valued at $1 billion or more. It went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange last month, with its market capitalization now standing at 157 billion yuan ($23.6 billion).

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