CATL aims to reach 300 Wh/kg before 2020

CATL cell roadmap

China’s 13th Five-year Plan (2016 to 2020) sets the goals for EV battery cells of reaching an energy density higher than 300 Wh/kg and cost lower than 100 €/kWh. Currently battery cell makers are working to reach or even surpass these objectives.


While Chinese battery cell makers are free to decide how they are going to achieve the goals set by the Chinese Government, NCM 811 battery cells are clearly the way to go. This cathode chemistry allows to reach high energy densities with the use of larger quantities of nickel, while keeping costs low by reducing the amount of cobalt present.

Furthermore the use of hybrid anodes made with graphite and silicon allows to increase the energy density even more than normal graphite cathodes.


Strategies to increase energy density


With the introduction of NCM 811 batteries, the use of TMS (Thermal Management Systems) becomes even more important. While at regular temperature (25º C) state of the art NCM 811 battery cells should retain 80 % of their initial capacity after 1.800 charge/discharge cycles, if the temperate increases to 45º C the cycle life drops to 1.250 (31 % less).


NCM811 vs NCM523 cycle life


Anyway, CATL seems confident to reach the Chinese Government’s goals even before 2020 and introduce a 75 Ah VDA PHEV2 battery cell. If applied today, this 75 Ah prismatic cell could be used to make a 72,6 kWh battery for the Volkswagen e-Golf, a 56,1 kWh battery for the Volkswagen e-up or a 26,1 kWh battery for the Toyota Prius PHV.


Summing up, when an energy density of 300 Wh/kg and a cost lower than 100 €/kWh are the minimum goals we can expect to see reached in two years, it’s obvious that ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars have their days numbered – sooner than many expected.

Furthermore it’s probable that before reaching 2020 even more impressive battery technology breakthroughs emerge as we’ve seen with the recent Sion Power announcement of 500 Wh/kg and 1.000 Wh/L.

It’s time for automakers to start investing resources to mass produce electric cars instead of trying to prove the impossible by gassing monkeys and humans, don’t you think?



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

26 Responses

  1. yogurt says:

    Unfortunately the BEV revolution is moving slow as all legacy auto companies want it to and I think the only thing to truly speed it up will be the Chinese auto companies selling BEVs in the EU and US on price…
    Unfortunately a number of the legacy Chinese companies foolishly have plans of coming and selling ICE or PHEVs…

    • Pedro Lima says:

      The Chinese market is much larger than USA or Europe. The Chinese automakers need to fully supply it with EVs first before thinking in expansion to foreign markets.

      However, this means that European, Japanese and American automakers need to develop more affordable EVs if they want a piece of the huge cake (Chinese market). Moreover, if they already spent resources in developing EVs to sell in China they might as well sell them in their domestic markets.

      Ultimately, what we really need is to make ICE cars expensive to run and buy with more taxes. Only when automakers find difficult to sell them, they’ll turn into selling EVs.

      • Lars says:

        The European and American car makers sell cars made in China on the Chinese market, they are only really interested in selling them in China because they have to. The European and American car makers could start by selling their cars at realistic prices, I think that would already be a good start.

      • Apkungen says:

        Tesla is already at 320wh/kg with its model 3!

  2. August says:

    56.1kwh for my e-up sounds fantastic. Would give it a realistic 500km summer range 🙂

    I have 10 000 EUR laying around. The company/person who wants to installs this capacity in my car will get this money. TAKE MY MONEY!

    • Pedro Lima says:

      It does sound fantastic. The VW e-up with more battery capacity and a more powerful on-board charger would be my favorite EV.

      I think that the arrival of battery plants from Samsung SDI and LG Chem to Europe opens new possibilities. One of those is car workshops selling upgrades to third party batteries. Car workshops need to adapt to change and this is how they’ll do it.

      • August says:

        I even believe I might be happy with only double capacity. Today it has 15kwh usable. 30kwh usable would be great. After all, it is one of the fastest charging cars around if you measure by km charged by hour on a CCS charger.

        I do anticipate that an industry will arise from cracking and tuning BMS to allow install greater battery cells. Just like workshops have been cracking engine management systems to allow for installing turbos, intercoolers and what not for normal cars for ages.

        Love your blog by the way. Keep up the great work!

        • Lars says:

          The e-Up is a very good example, we know that the batteries can be upgraded, they did it with the e-Golf, but if they would upgrade the e-Up it would become way to attractive, meaning they would be able to sell a lot more of them. The only company that does want to sell BEVs is Tesla, because they only produce BEVs. For me it seems that most traditional car makers try to make a BEV so that they can show that they can do it, the car can not be too attractive (they keep the battery capacity and the range low) and the rest of the demand is controlled by raising the price, which also allows them to earn more on every car. This makes BEVs a thing for the few.

          • ouhou says:

            The best example is the BMW i3 which has still NCM111 batteries I guess (173.9wh/kg), and they are going to upgrade to NCM622 only this year although the NCM811 are already produced since december 2017.

            With the ncm811 batteries they could increase the range of 44% for the same weight ( and at a lower volume) passing from NCM111 with an energy density of 174wh/kg to 250wh/kg with the NCM811… It means the range could be 360km instead of 250km simply by putting the last battery technology available (which cost less!) for the bmw i3

      • MiloE says:

        Yes, I dream of an e-up with 50-55 kWh battery, 150 kW charger and liquid TMS. At a reasonable price. Too bad Volkswagen isn’t interested in selling electric cars.

  3. Marcel Guldemond says:

    Nice conclusion Pedro. It is about time they get with it. I have some friends who are aware of the urgency of the need to do a lot more about climate change, but others, who should be more aware, just aren’t. It’s just an issue in the political game, that doesn’t really affect their personal lives.

    With CATL, Sion, and the ones with the Silicon/graphene microspheres all seeming to be making a lot of progress, I wonder who’s going to get an affordable long range (~325 km+) EV to Europe first. The ZOE and the LEAF are almost there, but not quite. The Model 3 probably won’t be there for a while. The Bolt might not ever make it to Europe. That leaves the upgraded Ioniq, Niro, i3, or LEAF e-plus? Any that I’m missing?

    The Jaguar i-Pace and the new Audio are too expensive to be included, and I’m not sure we’ll see the new VWs as soon as VW says they’ll have them out.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      I think that automakers have been fooling us by make us believe that 30.000 € electric cars are affordable. They aren’t. Most of the cars sold in Europe are superminis and are sold around 15.000 €, half of what they consider to be affordable.

      I’ll consider them affordable when they reach price-parity with ICE cars. The Renault Zoe for example shouldn’t cost more than 20.000 € before incentives and with battery included.

      Considering that the Clio has a starting price of 14.000 €, a much simpler to build Zoe shouldn’t cost more than 18.000 €, even with a 6.000 € battery.

      • Marcel Guldemond says:

        I agree that the manufacturers are probably still milking a enviro-concerned buyer premium on EVs. I also suspect that they don’t want to cut into their ICE business too much and sell too many EVs.

        I also suspect that there is a lot of organizational inertia in their dealer networks. Like a lot of people, the dealers and sales people are very resistant to change, especially if it has to do with how they make their living.

        I think there will come a point where one of the manufacturers will decide to try to break from the peloton though, maybe when they need big sales during the current quarter and their EV lineup is extensive enough, and then suddenly the prices will drop all over. Or a Chinese manufacturer floods the market or something.

        I also think that they might still need to charge something of a premium for EVs, such as 25%, because their dealers aren’t going to be making any money from servicing and repairs any more.

  4. Pajda says:

    Thanks Pedro for posting this outlook. However, I would like to point out that you again 🙂 emphasize the importance of gravimetric energy density in your analysis. Yes, gravimetric energy is closely tied to volumetric density in current technologies. But if we are to be accurate we must say that for your example of 75Ah in VDA PHEV2 it is most important to reach at least 700 Wh/l. If I use another example for current 37Ah cell with 180 Wh/kg it will be only poor benefit to increase it 300 Wh/kg if the volumetric density should remain the same.

    So please for me talk about both energy densities in the text for the next time 🙂

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Hi Pajda.

      I agree and if you notice most of the times that I write about battery technology I put emphasis on volumetric, not gravimetric energy density.

      However, this article is mostly about the Chinese Government’s plan that aims to reach 300 Wh/kg – important to reduce costs (same raw material for more capacity) -, they don’t mention volumetric energy density in their plans.

      Not long ago, the Chinese Government mandated that the energy density was increased to 200 Wh/kg and this meant that NCM chemistry replaced LiFePO4, now the goal is to reach 300 Wh/kg, which will lead to the replacement of NCM 622 by NCM 811.

      Their plans, not mine 🙂

      • Lars says:

        I think it is very interesting that we have reached a point where the Chinese are driving the development of new technology. Before it was the production of goods that were designed and developed in Europe or North America the Chinese were know for. They did their part of copying European and American products, but now they seem to be driving the development of new technology. And all this while the American and European car makers are bystanders doing nothing.
        I am also still surprised that there aren’t more small start-up companies in Europe and North America that start developing and producing electric cars, why is Tesla the only company that did that?

        • zvi rechnitz says:

          The production part have no advantage for small start ups. in my country there are 100s of start ups that deal with software / hardware for autonomy cars , data security, shared transportation etc

        • Marcel says:

          Because there are very few billionaires in the world who are focused on saving human civilization from climate change. Especially ones who were able to see the market opportunity that battery tech for EVs would have, following the cost curves for computer chips and flat screens. And were able to realize that government regulation would never bring about the EV revolution, that you needed to use consumer desire and wealthy people’s status seeking to fund it.

          The upper middle classes hate paying extra taxes even if it’s for a good cause, but they’ll happily pay extra to put a shiny new Tesla in the driveway.

  5. Rafael says:

    Gracias Pedro Lima por la excelente información. Me sorprende de sobremanera esa celda para vehiculos HEV como el mio con una potencia de 8000w/kg y 100wh/kg. Por cierto el otro día fuy de paso al concesionario Hyundai a que me dijeran que tipo de celdas y caracteristicas utilizaba mi IONIQ HEV y se hicieron los despistados y con el planin de revisiones tres cuartos de lo mismo……..

  6. Counter-Strike Cat says:

    25°C limit makes the batteries unusable for fast charging. A compressor based multi-KW cooling system would be required to keep the batteries below outside temperatures in summer. Only solution would be a cooling system in the charging station and that will make them very expensive.

  7. Tom Houlden says:

    According to the chart, after 1250 cycles at 45C the range will still be 80%. That means after about 420000km the eGolf in Pedro’s example above would still have about 300km of EPA range.

    In reality it would be even better, because the chart is based on a the relatively high-damage practice of full discharge to zero in 1 hour & full recharge to 100% in 1 hour. To cause that much battery stress requires driving about 110kph non-stop & immediately plugging into a “level 3” charger until its full. So the battery will last even better with the average daily drive of 65km, half at city speeds, & level 2 recharge.

  8. Marcel Guldemond says:

    Hi Pedro, I just saw this one about Ionic materials and their solid state battery.

  9. Marcel says:

    Hi Pedro, it looks like CATL 811 cells are going into production soon

Leave a Reply to MiloE Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *