(Yicai Global) July 21 -- Chinese new energy vehicle battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology and state-owned plane manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China are teaming up to explore the development of electric aircraft, Yicai Global learned from COMAC insiders.
COMAC plans to develop a fixed-wing electric aircraft, the sources said. But it is still at the initial stages of development at the COMAC Beijing Aircraft Technology Research Institute and there is a long way to go before it becomes a reality.
A joint venture, COMAC Times (Shanghai) Aviation, was set up by CATL and Beijing-based COMAC as well as third party Shanghai Jiao Tong University Enterprise Development Group on July 19 with a registered capital of CNY600 million (USD83.6 million), according to corporate registration data. The shareholding ratios were not given.
The legal representative of the JV, Qian Zhongyan, is the director of the COMAC research institute and was the deputy chief designer of China’s first homegrown large passenger plane, the C919.
Neither company has commented on the matter. But it could be that Ningde, southeastern Fujian province-based CATL plans to put its next-generation condensed batteries, which it showcased at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in April, to use in electric planes.
CATL is co-developing manned electric planes for civil use and is producing and testing condensed batteries according to both automobile- and aircraft-grade standards, Chief Scientist Wu Kai said earlier.
Electric planes are possible so long as batteries become lighter in weight and more powerful in order to produce an energy density of over 450 watt hours per kilogram, Elon Musk, chief executive officer of US NEV startup Tesla, said previously.
The energy density of a condensed battery is 500Wh/kg, but such batteries have yet to be mass produced. The energy density of CATL’s Qilin batteries, which are based on third-generation Cell-to-Pack technology, is 255Wh/kg with a range of 1,000 kilometers, only enough for use in electric cars.
COMAC has been developing new energy planes since 2019 and its Lingque-H hydrogen fuel aircraft has already performed successful test flights.
Editor: Kim Taylor