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How China Is Charging Ahead In The EV Race

The country’s lithium-ion battery capacity will be twice as big as the rest of the world’s by 2031

In the Chinese county of Fuding, the world’s largest battery maker CATL is building its most ambitious gigafactory to date. The vast battery plant has a planned annual production capacity of 120 gigawatt hours (GWh) — enough to power around 1.2 million electric vehicles (EVs) when fully utilised.

By comparison, the plant is more than three times the size of Tesla and Panasonic’s flagship Gigafactory 1 in the US state of Nevada. The scale and pace at which CATL, as well as other foreign and domestic players, are building battery production capacity in China is unmatched.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI), a specialist information provider for the EV supply chain, estimates that China is on course to have 3733GWh of lithium-ion battery cell capacity by 2031, more than double the total capacity (1721GWh) expected in the rest of the world.

“China is way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of battery capacity and continues to grow exponentially compared to its counterparts in North America and Europe,” says Hanisha Tirumalasetty, an analyst at BMI.

Across China, 125 battery gigafactories are already active — more than ten times the combined number in Europe and North America, according to BMI figures. China also has more than double the number of plants in planning or construction, spread across several provinces.

In line with China’s well established position as a global production hub across virtually every industry, the country is home to factories producing batteries for everything from EVs and electric scooters to consumer electronics and toys.

“There is no option for suppliers to not invest in China,” says Matteo Fini, who leads the automotive supply chain team at IHS Markit, a business intelligence provider. “China is just too big of a market to decide not to consider it in your global operations.”

The country’s dominant position in batteries, as well as the minerals needed to build their underlying components, makes it very unlikely for any other country or region to overtake it as the leading global production hub.

But as other locations reliant on the traditional automotive sector develop their own supply chains in the EV transition, they are looking at China’s rise for the recipe to success.

China is miles ahead in electric vehicle battery production

Gigafactory capacity (in GWh) for batteries, by province

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