The world’s largest battery manufacturer, CATL, has reportedly achieved mass production of its energy-dense Qilin batteries, which have a range of 1,000 km (621 miles) according to recent reports from China. On the upcoming ZEEKR 009 multipurpose vehicle (MPV), CATL’s new cells will make their debut. They make use of the 4680-pack structure.
In terms of EV battery development, CATL continues to be the name to beat, not just in China, where it has its headquarters, but also globally. With a nearly 25% larger market share than LG Energy Solution, which came in second place, the company once again emerged as the world’s largest battery market share holder for the sixth consecutive year in February.
In June of 2022, CATL announced its third generation cell-to-pack (CTP) “Qilin” battery cells, which utilize the 4680-pack structure popularized by automakers like Tesla. At the time, the battery manufacturer started making claims that the Qilin cells would offer a record-breaking volume utilization efficiency of 72% and an energy density of up to 255 Wh/kg, translating to a five-minute hot start and ten minutes of fast charging to reach a state of charge of 10–80%.
Following a five-year strategic cooperation agreement, we learned in late August that CATL’s new energy-dense 4680 cells would debut on the 009 MPV, the latest EV from emerging Chinese automaker ZEEKR. Customers should soon be able to purchase MPVs with an even greater range thanks to CATL’s Qilin batteries, which are currently in full-scale production. Those initial 009s started leaving ZEEKR’s assembly lines in China late last year.
The 009 will be the first vehicle in the world to be powered by the 4680 Qilin batteries when those ZEEKR MPVs do inevitably start arriving in China later this year. Even better, according to Chinese local media, CATL’s new packs have a 13% higher capacity per unit volume than other 4680 ternary batteries.
ZEEKR recently shared that a significant portion of reservation holders chose to wait for the version with CATL’s CTP 3.0 Qilin packs, adding that it was surprised so many people were interested. This is despite the fact that ZEEKR is already delivering some versions of its 009 MPV to customers overseas.
Having a range of up to 621 miles on pure electricity would surely pique someone’s interest. ZEEKR anticipates starting shipments of its 009 equipped with the batteries in the following quarter now that mass production of the Qilin packs is underway. Future automakers plan to use CATL’s 4680 Qilin batteries in their electric vehicles, including Li Auto and the Lotus brand, which is owned by Geely.
Since the Qilin design is a pack structure, it doesn’t necessarily mean these EVs will all carry CATL’s max energy density (255Wh/kg). According to CATL, the packs can also contain a 160Wh/kg lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry.