Firm also planning to tap local ESS market, sources say
Chinese battery giant CATL has formed a regional subsidiary in South Korea, TheElec has learned.
The regional branch, its fifth outside of China after Japan, Germany, the US and France, has set up its office at Gangnam, Seoul.
The subsidiary will have one regional manager and two employees at the start, people familiar with the matter said.
CATL is likely setting up the subsidiary in South Korea __ home to rivals LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI __ to provide support in lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery technology to customer Hyundai Motor, they said.
The Chinese battery maker earlier this year won battery orders from Hyundai Motor for over half their future electric vehicle models.
CATL is expected to provide the car giant with batteries in similar amounts to LG Energy Solution and SK On, which are also suppliers to Hyundai Motor.
The Chinese firm also recently signed a collaboration with Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai Motor’s automobile parts supplier, for cell to pack (CTP) technology.
CTP allowed CATL to supply batteries to Tesla for the Model 3 and is a key technology that allows more cells to be packed in a vehicle.
Instead of the traditional cell, module and pack structure, it removes the module and makes cells directly into packs. This allowed the company to overcome the relatively low energy density of LFP batteries by packing more cells.
In May, Hyundai Mobis made its battery pack joint venture with LG Chem called HL Green Power a wholly-owned subsidiary.
This is because pack technology is becoming more and more important in electric vehicles.
Meanwhile, CATL is also planning to market its energy storage system (ESS) in South Korea, the people said.
The Chinese company is aiming to out LFP batteries for ESS as those provided by LG Energy Solution and Samsung SDI had caught fire in the past.
LFP batteries have lower energy density and are heavier compared to NCM batteries.
But they are considered less prone to overheating and can charge fast.
CATL can also supply NCM batteries if it needs to, which means it can also expand in other markets in South Korea such as electric buses, camping cars and chips, the people said.