Editor’s note: TNGlobal is a media partner of BEYOND Expo 2024.
This article first appeared on Technode.com, written by Jill Shen & TechNode Staff. 

As emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to renewable energy, show potential to tackle global challenges, they are also shaping the vision of the world’s largest electric vehicle battery manufacturer.

Robin Zeng, founder, chairman, and CEO of Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL), shared his vision at the BEYOND EXPO 2024 opening ceremony, one of Asia’s largest tech events.

His remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity. 

I am happy to visit Macao, again, and attend the BEYOND EXPO.

CATL has been the No.1 [battery maker] in the world over the last seven years. Still, something important to us is how far battery technology innovations can go beyond passenger cars, commercial trucks, and airplanes. We are thinking about how to make airplanes electrified.

There are three uncertainties that matter to me and CATL.

One thing is the uncertainty in the future. There are a lot of things taking place on the technology side. For example, AI is coming. I just talked to colleagues about what AI can do, what AI for science can do, and how much they [AI for science] can improve the efficiency of innovations. Can we make some revolutionary innovations from AI? That is where we are technology-wise, and that is why we put a lot of research and resources there, looking for the future.

Secondly, to be economically wise. We are in a time of transition from the traditional economy into the new economy. We call it a technology-driven economy.

Then, there are geopolitical issues.

Innovation is the key word for everyone, especially in the technology industry. For example, today when you drive an EV, there is the problem of range, the problem of charging, and the problem of low-temperature performance. You may think: ‘Can I have one charge and then drive my car for 1,000 kilometers?’ So that is why we keep innovating new technologies, which can ease the concerns of our consumers at the end of the day. We have to do that to differentiate ourselves and satisfy consumers’ needs with their EVs.

We have invested around $10 billion in research and development in the last 10 years. We have used the most advanced materials to make the battery electrochemical systems more optimized for their needs. We also have a lot of innovations in battery structure, such as CTP (Cell-to-Pack). Why put a cell into a module and then into a pack and not just put a cell directly into a pack? Why do we need a pack? We can put the cells into the vehicle chassis, which can dramatically reduce the components of the whole pack and, therefore, be very energy efficient.

Also, we are looking for very fast charging, and that is what we provide with our Shenxing batteries. You can charge it for 10 minutes and then go 400 kilometers. It is similar to a gasoline engine car already. Next step, we are going to have what we call the “6C charging,” which will be down to six minutes. So quicker and quicker. Faster and better.

Another thing I want to emphasize is the cycle life and the storage life of the battery. Today people still do not fully explore the battery’s function.

So you bought a car. Every day, the driving range might be only 50 kilometers. But this is a 600-kilometer-range car, so you have a 550-kilometer equivalent battery that is wasted and sleeping. Why not put this battery (power back) into the grid? The battery is there the whole day. They can help the grid.

Energy storage is so important. Today, because of energy storage, we can store energy in the morning and use it in the afternoon and night. We can even store energy for the whole year. That is why there is more freedom for energy use, which can create a lot of new businesses and that is the reason we want to get into this.

On the other hand, renewable energy is not stable because of climate change. There needs to be ways to stabilize them and create electricity, which can help the industries. That is another reason why we are stepping into this.

We recently unveiled TENER — the world’s first mass-producible 6.25 MWh energy storage system with zero degradation in the first five years of use, which would make a zero-carbon society easier. We already have five zero-carbon factories, and we want to extend our capabilities into more industries and society.

As the world’s temperature continues to increase, we need to react faster — not only to ease the concerns about climate change but also to adapt our economies to this new trend.

[BEYOND EXPO 2024] CATL expects electric commercial planes to be ready as soon as 2027