(Yicai Global) June 28 -- Chinese electric carmaker BYD has put its new one-square-kilometer battery plant, the world's largest, into operation amid plans to jolt power production up to 60 gigawatt-hours by 2020.
The new factory, based in lithium-rich Qinghai province in northwestern China, spans the size of 140 soccer pitches at Nanchuan Industrial Park, state-owned news agency Xinhua reported. When the plant hits full swing in 2019, it will produce 24 gigawatt-hours of batteries a year, enough to power 1.2 million units of its plug-in hybrid crossover the BYD Tang.
"Battery-powered vehicles are an inevitable trend," said Wang Chuangu, chairman of the Shenzhen-based manufacturer. "Now China has pegged a schedule for the ban on sales of fossil-fueled vehicles, the new-energy vehicle industry is ready to embrace an even bigger boom."
The timetable followed in the path of a number of major auto markets worldwide that have vowed to steer clear of traditionally-fueled vehicles in the near future. France and the United Kingdom, two of Europe's biggest car sellers, have pledged to end sales of new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040, while individual cities like Athens, Paris and Madrid aim to ban all diesel vehicle sales by 2025.
China's NEV sector overshadows the rest of the world, and saw sales top 600,000 last year at a growth rate of around 73 percent, data from industry researcher EV Volumes shows. Excluding commercial vehicles, the nation had a 49 percent share of the global plug-in market.
Prior to opening the plant, BYD had two production bases in the southern province of Guangdong, with an annual yield of around 16 gigawatt-hours. The new factory is based in the region which is home to more than 70 percent of Chinese lithium, a critical material required in NEV battery production.
Editor: James Boynton