EVE Energy demonstrates its vehicle batteries during an expo in Shanghai. (CHINA DAILY)
EVE Energy Co Ltd, a Chinese battery manufacturer, plans to invest about $1.18 billion to build a battery plant in Debrecen, Hungary, to supply German carmaker BMW's plant in the country.
The planned Debrecen plant, experts said, will mark the latest foray by Chinese battery makers into overseas markets, and show that they are supported by expanding production capacity, advancing technologies and improving services, which also help them secure a significant market share worldwide.
Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, the world's largest electric vehicle battery maker, announced last year it will invest 7.34 billion euros ($8.04 billion) to build a battery production unit with a capacity of 100 gigawatt-hours in Debrecen to supply European automakers.
EVE Energy, the world's ninth largest battery cell manufacturer by installed capacity, said in a statement on Tuesday it had signed an agreement to buy a 45-hectare tract of land in Debrecen's northwest industrial zone for the production of cylindrical batteries.
EVE Energy will invest around 400 billion Hungarian forints ($1.18 billion) in the project, and Hungary's government will support the project with 14 billion forints, reported Xinhua News Agency, citing Peter Szijjarto, Hungary's minister of foreign affairs and trade, on Tuesday.
The move is to meet the demand for new-generation cylindrical batteries from German carmaker BMW's plant in Hungary, Xinhua said.
Buoyed by growing demand for electric vehicle batteries, an increasing number of Chinese battery makers are expanding their global footprint.
Data from China Business Journal showed a batch of battery makers — CATL, Sunwoda Electronic Co Ltd and EVE Energy — have reportedly established overseas factories with accumulated finished investment of $2.3 billion in the first 11 months of last year.
Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, attributed the significant increase in China's lithium battery producers' expansion into foreign markets to several factors like an increase in production capacity and technological advancements in lithium battery manufacturing.
"Chinese battery makers have distinct benefits in collaborating with related equipment manufacturers in both the upstream and downstream supply chain segments. They also enjoy an advantage in pricing due to their enhanced production capacity and volume, which also enables them to provide sustainable supply," Zhou said.
According to data released by South Korean battery market research firm SNE Research, in the first quarter, carmaker BYD's battery installation surpassed South Korea's LG Energy Solution and ranked second with a 16.2 percent market share worldwide.
In the same period, BYD's battery installation volume hit 21.5 GWh, a 115 percent increase from last year's 10 GWh.
CATL's market share was the highest at 35 percent, and its first-quarter battery installation was 46.6 GWh, a 35.9 percent year-on-year increase from last year's 34.3 GWh. The combined market share of these two companies exceeds 50 percent worldwide, SNE Research said.
"The growing demand for renewable energy and new energy vehicles from major consumer countries has also played a role," Zhou said.
Chinese companies, he said, have an edge over their competitors in terms of production scale, efficiency and service, which allow them to supply large quantities of lithium batteries that meet diverse customer needs.