South Korea’s Kia Corporation plans to use batteries manufactured by China’s CATL in an electric vehicle (EV) it plans to sell in its home country, the Hankook Ilbo newspaper said on Wednesday, citing an unnamed Kia official.
Kia said it would source batteries from Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) for the electric Niro crossover SUV in what would be its first use of non-Korean EV batteries for local sales.
The report said Kia factored in cost-competitiveness when making its decision for the Niro EV, which is aimed at the middle rather than premium segment. The newspaper didn’t disclose financial or volume terms of the battery deal.
CATL, whose clients include Tesla and Volkswagen, is the world’s largest battery maker with a global market share of more than 35%, according to industry tracker SNE Research. The market, analysts say, is worth tens of billions of dollars.
Kia and CATL officials were not immediately available for comment.
Last year, another domestic newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported that CATL had won a deal to supply batteries to Hyundai Motor Group, parent of Kia and Hyundai Motor, along with LG Energy Solution (LGES) and SK Innovation’s SK On.
Analysts said Kia would be keen to lower costs for its Niro EV by using CATL batteries that are considered more cost-effective. Batteries are typically the most expensive component of EVs, making up about 30-40% of total manufacturing cost.
“This appears to be a natural course of business for South Korean automakers as they plan to boost EV sales and secure battery capacity … relying on only a few battery suppliers could be a risk factor,” said Kevin Yoo, an analyst at Daol Investment & Securities.
The Hankook Ilbo newspaper said Kia had not yet disclosed its decision to adopt CATL’s batteries to its customers.
Hyundai Motor and Kia have so far only used batteries made by two South Korean firms – LGES and SK On – for electric vehicles for the South Korean market.
That duo and domestic peer Samsung SDI together command more than a quarter of the global EV battery market, according to SNE Research.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard