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BYD builds biggest battery factory for electric cars

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China, the country that already accounts for half the world’s production and sales of electric cars, is also well on its way to dominating the global market for electric vehicle batteries. The Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) earlier this year that Chinese firms were quickly buying up supply chains of cobalt, an essential component for building these batteries, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces half the world’s supply of the mineral. The Journal adds, “In the past year, China has announced plans to add more than 150 gigawatt hours of production in the next three to four years, tripling current capacity.”

  • BYD, the leading Chinese car manufacturer that famously received investment from Warren Buffett, is using $1.5 billion to build a car battery factory with 24 gigawatt-hours (GWh) capacity by 2019, Bloomberg reports (paywall).
  • The Qinghai-based factory will be the world’s largest of its kind, though not for long: BYD’s competitor, CATL, will also open one of the same size in 2020, and Tesla is still building a much larger “Gigafactory” in Nevada with up to 35GWh capacity. Tesla also plans to build a China-based battery factory, though no location or timeline has been announced for that one.
  • BYD’s factory is part of a $3.8 billion investment to quadruple the company’s car battery output, from 16GWh now to 60GWh in 2020, according to Caixin (paywall).
  • Wang Chuanfu 王传福, the chairman of BYD, declared last year that he expects all vehicles in China to be electrified by 2030, following the government’s announcement in September that it will end the production and sale of fossil-fuel-burning vehicles, likely within a couple of decades.
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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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