BYD to build largest vehicle-battery factory next year

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BYD is building what would become the world’s largest vehicle-battery factory next year in an effort by the Chinese electric-car maker to increase capacity and help revive earnings growth, reported Bloomberg.

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The plant will have an annual capacity of 24 gigawatt-hours when it is fully in use in 2019, enough to equip 1.2 million BYD Tang electric cars, according to the manufacturer backed by Warren Buffett. BYD invested 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in the factory, which will help meet the company’s plan to boost its battery-making capability almost fourfold by 2020.

China’s biggest manufacturer of new-energy vehicles has differentiated itself from other carmakers with its self-sufficiency in battery supplies and strength in battery-production, starting with its roots as a maker of mobile-phone batteries. BYD is also expanding production to sell batteries to other automakers to broaden its income sources after posting profit declines in five of the past 10 years and plans to spin off the business.

The new plant will cover 1 million square meters — the size of about 140 soccer fields. It will be a fully automated facility, with about 100 robots handling logistics and manufacturing.

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BYD will face competition for the crown. Tesla is expanding its gigafactory in Nevada to reach an output of 35 GWh, according to its website. Tesla also plans to build a gigafactory in China.

BYD expects its total battery-making capacity to reach 28 GWh this year and rise further to 48 GWh and 60 GWh in 2019 and 2020, said He Long, a vice president who heads the battery business.

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