CATL, The World's Largest Supplier Of EV Batteries, Has Spawned 9 Billionaires

CATL takes advantage of China's leading position as the manufacturing hub of electronics and also now the leading electric car market in the world.

By Sahil Gupta


1 mins read


Published on May 5, 2021

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  • CATL has spawned 9 billionaires, including two investors
  • The founder and the vice chairman of th company are billionaires too
  • CATL has 4 members of active management who are billionaires

Most people haven't probably heard of a decade-old company called CATL. Not only it is the world's largest supplier of EV batteries, being one of the biggest engines of this transformation in the automotive segment, but it has also spawned 9 billionaires which are more than what Silicon Valley titans like Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla and even Microsoft and Amazon have spawned. 

Known as Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), it is one of the leading suppliers for EV batteries to big automotive OEMs like BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, the German giants who are trying to fend off the electrical revolution that Tesla has waged in the last decade. Demand for their batteries has increased year on year which has elevated them even above LG Energy Solutions formerly known as LG Chem which is the leading battery supplier in the world. 


If Tesla exports the Model 3 in India, chances are it will have CATL battery in it

CATL's founder Robin Zeng because of all this success is now the world's 47th richest person with a worth of $32.5 billion at an age of 52. But he is not the only one. Eight more people have become billionaires because of the unprecedented recent success. 

Zeng was already a billionaire before COVID-19 struck calamity for the world. Zeng's $9.7 billion fortune grew by more than 3x thanks to his 25 per cent stake in CATL. His co-vice chairman's also reaped the benefits of electrification fuelled by COVID. Huang Shilin now has a worth of $14.7 billion and Li Ping has a work of $6.6 billion. Investor Pei Zhenhua who invested in CATL in 2015 is now worth $8.5 billion. His early bet paid off handsomely.  

Zhao Fenggang is worth $2.4 billion, Wu Kai is worth $2.3 billion, We Yingming is worth $1.9 billion, Chen Qiongxiang is worth $1.8 billion while Chen Yuantai is worth $1.3 billion. All of them were added to the Forbes billionaires list in 2021 and four of them have active management roles while Chen Qiongxiang is also an early investor. 

Just for some context, at Apple, after almost 10 years being CEO, Tim Cook only became a billionaire in 2020. At Amazon, only Jeff Bezos has scaled such heights. Facebook, has spawned a couple of billionaires apart from Zuckerberg himself. At Google, the founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are the billionaires apart from a few others. Both Facebook and Google have spawned eight billionaires each. Walmart also interestingly has 8 billionaires but all of them are decedents of Sam Walton, the founder of the company. 

Interestingly, CATL's journey began because of Apple. Robin Zeng founded ATL in 1999. This was right about the time Tim Cook was revolutionising the supply chain management and manufacturing function at Apple as its chief operations officer. He was shutting down Apple's expensive factories which were bleeding money and handing off the manufacturing to contract manufacturers in China who leveraged local suppliers like ATL for batteries of iPods, iPads, and MacBooks. In 2011, Zeng created a spinoff company called CATL and by 2012 it was supplying batteries to BMW. 


In 2021, CATL dethroned LG Energy Solutions as the leading supplier of EV batteries 

In 2015 when the Chinese government started to make a push for developing clean energy industries, CATL had the home ground advantage from the government. It was part of 50 domestic firms that were part of a recommended suppliers list while biggies like LG and Samsung were not on the list probably because of their South Korean origins. In 2019, by when CATL was a listed company, this list was removed, but the benefits were undoubtably there. 

CATL takes advantage of China's leading position as the manufacturing hub of electronics and also now the leading electric car market in the world. There is a new breed of Chinese EV startups that have taken the market by storm and many of them also source their batteries from CATL. In 2020, CATL produced 46 per cent of the battery capacity that was deployed in EVs made in China. Now, globally as of April 2021, CATL has 31.5 per cent of the global battery supply market share for EVs and it has left LG Energy Solutions behind in the dust which now only commands 20.5 per cent of the market. 

In 2020, CATL even became a supplier to the Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai which has fuelled the growth of the world's highest capitalised automaker. At the factory, Tesla is making the Model 3 and Model Y. The Model 3 recently became the world's most popular executive sedan and Elon Musk wagers that the Model Y will overtake it as well. All the batteries in these vehicles are supplied by CATL. And these vehicles are being sold outside China as well. 

While all this has happened, CATL has also made huge inroads in Europe. It was almost absent in Europe at the start of 2020, but by the end of the year, it was the fourth biggest player on the continent. This coincided with the electrification efforts of Volkswagen, Daimler taking off alongside the construction of a Tesla Gigafactory in Berlin. 


Last Updated on May 5, 2021

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