Tesla supplier CATL evaluates overseas battery swap business

CATL is the world’s largest maker of electric vehicle batteries and a supplier to the likes of Tesla and Ford.

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CATL, the world’s largest maker of electric vehicle batteries, is evaluating whether to expand its battery replacement business into international markets, an executive told CNBC.

CATL, or Contemporary Ampere Technologies. Limited, a supplier to companies such as Tesla and Ford.

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In January, the Chinese battery maker launched a battery replacement business called EVOGO in 10 Chinese cities. The aim is to eliminate the need for electric vehicles to stop at charging stations. Instead, drivers can rent battery packs from CATL and put them in their cars when other batteries run out. This takes a few minutes.

Chinese EV startup NIO also has a competing battery swap program. Nio co-founder Qin Lihong told Reuters this week that the company plans to expand to build 1,000 battery swap stations outside China by 2025, most of them in Europe.

The company is also evaluating expanding its battery replacement products to Europe, Li Xiaoning, executive president of overseas commercial applications at CATL, told CNBC on Thursday.

“I would say it will start in China this year. We will gradually check EVOGO’s overseas footprint,” Li said.

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“We are starting to evaluate potential collaborations with many partners. We need to understand the details in practice,” he added. “We think about a lot of things. Product technology is one thing, business case, regulations, local rules and other factors we need to consider are another.”

If CATL expands its business overseas, it could help foreign automakers offer battery replacement services to customers without having to build expensive infrastructure themselves.

CATL is facing challenges, including rising costs of raw materials such as lithium, which enter its batteries.

But the company still more than doubled its second-quarter profit as demand for electric vehicles continued to be strong.

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