Electric-vehicle battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL) expects electric commercial airplanes to be ready by 2027 or 2028, its top executive said.

“We have been working with our partners on this… I think by 2027 or 2028,” Robin Zeng, Founder and Chief Executive of CATL, said during a fireside chat at the opening ceremony of BEYOND Expo 2024 in Macao on Wednesday evening.

He was responding to a question on when would he expect to see electric airplanes materialize. Zeng was referring to commercial airplane with total takeoff weight of 8.8 tonnes which he said could probably have 14 seaters.

“When it comes to airplanes, everyone thinks about the big ones. We had started a small one. We have tried the airplanes which is four tonnes to take off,” he said. “But for commercial ones, it needs to be 8.8 tonnes. It’s still work in progress,” he explained.


BEYOND Expo Co-Founder Jason Ho (left) & Robin Zeng, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of CATL at the opening ceremony of BEYOND Expo 2024.

CATL is the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, according to earlier reports. The company has grown over the past decade to supply 37 per cent of the world’s EV batteries last year. CATL makes 40 per cent of the batteries used for energy storage, according to battery and energy research firm SNE Research.

It was reported last year that CATL has teamed up with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), a China state-owned plane manufacturer, to delve into the possibilities of electric airplanes.

Through a joint venture named COMAC Times Aviation, and with the backing of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Enterprise Development group, the two companies are exploring this new frontier, KrAsia reported in August 2023.

In April last year, CATL launched condensed battery, a cutting-edge battery technology at Auto Shanghai. With an energy density of up to 500 Wh/kg, it can achieve high energy density and high level of safety at the same time in a creative manner, opening up a brand-new electrification scenario of passenger aircrafts.

[BEYOND Expo 2024] Global innovators gather at BEYOND Expo 2024 opening ceremony to discuss the future of technology