CATL Launches Bold Vision for 2,000 km Electric Plane Journey

CATL Makes Aviation History with Successful Flight of 4T Electric Plane Powered by Revolutionary "Condensed Batteries"

CATL, the global leader in electric vehicle (EV) batteries boasting a significant 38% market share, has reached a groundbreaking achievement. The company successfully conducted a test flight of a 4-ton plane powered by their state-of-the-art, ultra-high density “condensed batteries.” This milestone propels CATL towards their next ambitious goal: the development of an 8-ton electric plane capable of flying 2,000 to 3,000 km (1,240-1,865 miles), slated for takeoff between 2027 and 2028.

The introduction of CATL’s revolutionary “Condensed Battery” at the Shanghai Auto Show last April hinted at the company’s grand plans. Dr. Robin Zeng, chairman and CEO of CATL, emphasized the importance of technological advancement, safety, and reliability in the battery industry. He highlighted the role of these advancements in accelerating the energy transition and securing a sustainable future. Dr. Zeng confirmed that the future of electric aircraft will rely on the high-density condensed battery, designed for long-range flights suitable for private and business jets. These batteries boast an energy density of up to 500 Wh/kg per cell, twice that of the average EV battery. Additionally, CATL has partnered with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to drive the electrification of the aviation industry.

CATL’s dominance in the EV battery market remains unchallenged, as reported by SNE Research. The global EV battery consumption volume in 2023 reached 705.5 GWh, marking a 38.6% year-on-year growth. Major automotive manufacturers like Ford, Tesla, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz rely on CATL’s innovative batteries. The company’s expansion includes the addition of two overseas plants to their existing facilities in Germany, Thailand, Hungary, Indonesia, and the United States in collaboration with Ford and Tesla. Dr. Zeng’s emphasis on safety underscores CATL’s commitment to rigorous safety standards, a key factor contributing to their market leadership. He aims to improve the cell defect rate to one in a billion, surpassing the industry standard of one in a million. Dr. Zeng’s focus on long-term value and superior performance highlights CATL’s competitive edge in the battery industry.

In 2023, CATL invested approximately 18.4 billion yuan (~2.59 billion U.S. dollars) in research and development, leading to significant breakthroughs like TENER, the world’s first mass-producible energy storage system with zero degradation in the first five years, and Shenxing PLUS, the world’s first LFP battery achieving a range exceeding 1,000 km with 4C superfast charging. Prioritizing safety, sustainability, and recycling, CATL manufactures battery materials and recycles metals from waste batteries for production. The company’s zero-carbon strategy focuses on using reusable and renewable materials, with 100,000 tons of used batteries recycled in 2023 to produce 13,000 tons of lithium carbonate. Professor Ni Jun, Chief Manufacturing Officer of CATL, stresses the importance of designing batteries with recyclability in mind, with plans for next-gen sodium-ion batteries set to launch soon.

Zeng’s vision for sustainable aviation drives CATL’s commitment to reducing fossil fuel use in the aerospace industry. The company’s technological advancements aim to revolutionize air travel by harnessing renewable energy sources. Despite the size difference compared to traditional aircraft, an 8-ton electric plane presents a significant step towards sustainable aviation. The higher energy density of CATL’s batteries raises safety concerns, with the company prioritizing rigorous safety testing to ensure flawless service in the future. Exciting developments are on the horizon as CATL continues its mission towards electrifying aviation and reducing environmental impact.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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