By Baek Byung-yeul
Chinese battery maker CATL has confirmed that it will supply its lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and nickel, cobalt and manganese (NCM) batteries to Korean carmaking giant Hyundai Motor Group as part of its efforts to increase its presence in the global electric vehicle (EV) battery market.
"We will supply Hyundai with both LFP and NCM batteries, in both of which, we have cutting-edge technological strengths as well as long development and application experience," an unnamed CATL official confirmed to The Korea Times, Monday. "The specific type of battery to be supplied shall be determined by the needs of our customers and the market."
CATL is known to have established its regional office in Seoul recently, which is its fifth overseas branch after ones in Japan, Germany, the United States and France. Its opening illustrates that the company's battery products have a competitive edge compared to other battery makers in terms of price and product quality.
Though the company representative didn't go into more detail about the plans for its cooperation with Hyundai, its plan to supply batteries to the Korean carmaker can be understood as involving CATL as a battery supplier for the E-GMP, the automotive group's first platform dedicated to battery-powered vehicles.
For Hyundai Motor Group, the diversification of battery suppliers is consistent with the group's goal of becoming a top-tier EV maker, helping the company reduce the price of its batteries, which accounts for the largest portion of EV production costs. The automotive group sets its EV sales target of 1 million by 2025 and plans to take an 8 percent to 10 percent share of the global EV market by 2040.
Regarding CATL's confirmation that it will provide LFP and NCM batteries, a Hyundai Motor Group official said that the company cannot confirm which batteries it is using for its EVs.
"We have never said that we use batteries from any particular company in our EVs, except when we announce recalls. We can say we are using batteries from various battery makers," the official said over the telephone. "We are receiving batteries from several vendors. We produce various types of EVs and use various kinds of batteries for each vehicle type."
When asked about receiving low-cost and safer LFP batteries from CATL, the Hyundai official said, "There are many new EVs to come, so each car has a different type of battery and there is nothing we can say about it."
CATL is a leading EV battery maker globally that has fiercely competed against Korean battery companies, such as LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI and SK On.
Though the company's dominant market share mainly comes from the domestic Chinese market, in which it has more than a 50-percent share, the company secured a 31.2-percent share in the global EV battery market from January to September of this year, followed by LG with 23.8 percent, SK with 5.4 percent and Samsung with 4.6 percent, according to market tracker SNE Research.
Even though the company has gained much of its fame in the domestic market rather than overseas, the CATL official said that the company "is committed to offering top-tier solutions for world new energy applications and delivering high-quality products to our customers worldwide."
"We have been placing great emphasis on expanding our global footprint since a long time ago and in 2020, our overseas revenue reached 7.9 billion yuan (about $1.24 billion), up 295 percent over the previous year," the representative said.
CATL added that the company will not only focus on passenger EVs, but also other business areas, such as commercial EVs and energy storage systems, in the Korean market.
"CATL provides world-leading new energy products for electric passenger and commercial vehicles and energy storage systems, which have been successfully applied in various countries and regions all over the world. We hope to expand these applications and experiences to the South Korean market and support the achievement of carbon neutrality targets of South Korea, as well as the world," according to the official.