In the Middle Ages, the city of Erfurt in central Germany was a key stop on a trading route linking the far-flung ends of Europe. It’s about to take on a crucial new role as home to one of the world’s largest battery makers.
China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., the top global supplier of lithium-ion batteries for cars, storage systems, and power grids, will begin production at a factory at Arnstadt, near Erfurt, later in 2021. It’s the first foreign plant for billionaire Zeng Yuqun’s decade-old business.
CATL’s plant represents a key point in the auto industry’s shift to electric. Spurred by growing demand, Asia’s dominant battery producers are expanding directly into Europe and the U.S.
Electric vehicle sales in Europe in 2020 exceeded those in China for the first time, according to BloombergNEF forecasts, and Europe’s share of global battery manufacturing will rise to 17% by 2025, up from 6% in 2020. In the U.S., Joe Biden’s presidency has raised expectations for faster EV adoption: BNEF forecasts a 30% increase in sales in the first half of 2021, compared with the same period in 2019.
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