China’s BYD has opened the “world’s biggest auto batteries plant”— as part of a reported multi-billion dollar investment to expand its domestic battery-making capacity to 60 gigawatt-hours within three years.
BYD— which stands for ‘build your dreams’— said the six-square-kilometre plant in Qinghai Province— “equivalent in size to around 140 football pitches”— will itself have a 24GWh production capacity when it ramps up to full capacity next year.
The Qinghai site, in what BYD said is in a “lithium-rich” region of China, will produce lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries for the firm’s hybrid ‘Tang’ sports utility vehicle.
BYD did not reveal its total planned investment costs for future batteries production, but the state Xinhua News Agency said the company would spend a total of CNY25 billion ($3.8bn) to expand automotive battery capacity to 60GWh by around 2020.
According to Xinhua, Qinghai accounts for 80% of China’s lithium resources and the province’s salt lake contains more than 60% of the world's lithium reserves.
BYD already has two production bases at Shenzhen and Huizhou, in the country’s southeastern Guangdong Province, which account for an annual battery capacity total of 16GWh for BYD to date.
Meanwhile, BYD has continued to expand its battery portfolio in the UK electric vehicle market through a separate deal.
The Chinese firm, in cooperation with British bus building companyAlexander Dennis (ADL), is set to deliver its second batch of fully-electric buses for London’s public transport network.
The 37 fully-electric buses— powered byBYD’s LiFePO 4 batteries— will be rolled out on London’s roads from the second quarter of next year.
Two years ago, BYD-ADL supplied single decker buses to London for the first time. Those vehicles can “consistently run a 16-hour shift without a recharge being necessary”, according to the Mayor of London’s office. None of the partners had returned BBB’s calls to establish the range of the latest bus batteries at the time of going to press.
BBB reported in May that BYD was set to supply its lithium-ion battery tech for a new 25-megawatt energy storage project for a local authority in the UK.
BYD has also recently supplied two 1,200kWh lithium-ion batteries for low head river hydropower projects in the UK.