It’s not just Tesla. Chinese electric vehicle battery makers are frantically building lithium-ion battery gigafactories—capable of producing massive amounts of power. The “giga” comes from gigawatt-hour, which is enough energy to power one million homes for an hour.
On Wednesday, China’s largest electric vehicle maker BYD started operating a battery plant for EVs in northwestern Qinghai province. The company said that the plant, when it is in full operation next year, will be the world’s biggest in terms of production capacity. It will have a production capacity of 24 gigawatt-hours (GWh), which is enough to power 570,000 EV360, the company’s pure EV models for 360 kilometers (224 miles), according to a company spokesperson.
The plant is the latest indication of China’s booming EV market, which is already the world’s largest. The country sold 328,000 new energy vehicles, a term that includes hybrids and pure EVs, as of May, 1.5 times the sales figures of the same period a year earlier.
Here are the latest developments of the gigafactory plans of five top manufacturers, whose total production capacity in May accounted for 70% of the country’s batteries for EVs and hybrids, according to data obtained by Quartz from Gaogong Industry Institute, a Shenzhen-based EV research firm. While they may not be on the scale of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, under construction since 2014, and which is aiming for annual production of 35 Gwh when complete, the Chinese firms are moving fast.
- Contemporary Amperex Technology, China’s largest EV battery maker, is building a 24-GWh factory in its headquarter city Ningde, in a tea-growing province in southern China. When completed in 2020, it will boost the company’s total production capacity to 88 GWh a year.
- BYD’s new 24 GWh Qinghai plant will boost the company’s total capacity to 60 GWh in 2019. The plant is expected to have a production capacity of 10 GWh this year. The company built the plant in Qinghai because 83% of the country’s lithium (link in Chinese) is located in the province.
- Founded in 2001, Eve Energy is based in the southern coastal city of Huizhou. It sells batteries to Geely, the Chinese company that owns Sweden’s Volvo Cars. It announced a plan to build a factory with a production capacity of 1.5 GWh (link in Chinese) in Huizhou in April. As of 2017, the company’s had a 7.5 GWh annual production capacity.
- Based in the mountainous eastern city of Ganzhou, 10-year-old (link in Chinese) Funeng Technology is a major battery provider to Beijing-based BAIC Motor, the top EV seller among state-owned companies. Funeng started building a plant with a 10-GWh production capacity in December 2016 in its hometown. It had planned to finish the plant by 2017 and started operation (link in Chinese) this year. It’s unclear where that stands. The company couldn’t be reached for comment.
- Guoxuan High-Tech is based in central city Hefei, and is also a battery provider to BAIC Motor. The 13-year-old company announced in April last year it would build a factory with a 4-GWh (link in Chinese) annual production capacity for use starting March 2018. That’s enough to power more than 200,000 EVs and hybrids (link in Chinese), according to the company. Guoxuan didn’t immediately respond to queries on the plant’s latest status.