CATL will build the battery factory in central Germany to supply the country's auto industry through its transformation toward electric cars, high-end manufacturer BMW said Monday.
"Today's signing represents a new chapter in the success story of our BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture", said Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of the BMW Group. The expansion is the German luxury carmaker's second this week in China, part of a parade of accords announced at a Berlin summit with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in attendance.
Currently, global supply of battery cells is sufficient to meet carmakers' demand, but the situation could change, when several new electric models are rolled out from the early 2020s.
German economy minister Peter Altmaier equally sees the need for a European initiative for the production of battery cells on the continent. However, since the factory was opening in Europe, it was good that it was opening in Germany, she added.
"It is important that Germany works closely with a big worldwide manufacturer, because the Germans can't do it, they don't want to... and they are less willing to invest in this new field".
The company plans to make the investment in two stages, with an initial 14 gigawatt-hours of capacity to come on stream in 2021.
Approximately 600 high-tech jobs are expected to be created at the facility in Thuringia, which will be located on a 70-hectare plot in an industrial park called Erfurter Kreuz.
BMW has awarded a contract worth just over 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for China-based CATL to make cells for electric cars, while Volkswagen has selected three suppliers-CATL, South Korea's Samsung and LG Chem to supply $25 billion worth of batteries. "CATL is a very open company, whether it is German or not does not matter". "We welcome the decision of CATL to manufacture in Germany and are in talks regarding this", a spokesman said.
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