Lithium iron phosphate, or LFP, batteries are cheaper and more stable than alternatives, but often provide shorter range because they lack energy density — though that is quickly changing. CATL dominates the market for LFP batteries, and Tesla already uses LFP cells supplied by CATL at a Shanghai factory.
CATL’s new North American plant would produce a mix of nickel-manganese-cobalt and LFP cells, and supply both Tesla and other automakers, two people familiar with the matter said.
Tesla’s Elon Musk said in January that battery supplies would become a limiting factor once the chip crisis subsides. To prepare for the crunch, Tesla is making its own 4680 battery cells in Fremont, Calif., and widening its supply circle beyond longtime partner Panasonic as it seeks to ramp up sales and prepares to open plants in Austin, Texas, and Berlin.
Panasonic also is scouting for a U.S. manufacturing site, Bloomberg reported earlier this month. The company makes 4680 cells for Tesla and supplies the automaker’s gigafactory in Reno, Nev.
CATL has 145 gigawatt-hours of battery manufacturing capacity online and has announced or is in the process of building another 579 by 2026, according to data compiled by BloombergNEF.
The manufacturer also counts auto giants Daimler Truck Holding AG, BMW, Stellantis and BAIC Motor Corp among its customers around the world.