CATL's groundbreaking Qilin battery pack promises a 621-mile range for EVs

It beats the 4680-cell innovation that Elon Musk talks about.
Ameya Paleja
Under the skin of a ZEEKR 001
Under the skin of a ZEEKR 001


The much-awaited third-generation QIlin batteries from Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) will be available on ZEEKR electric vehicles, the battery manufacturer said in a press release.

There are many roadblocks on the way for electric vehicles to truly replace gas-powered cars. While some can be sorted with policy and others by diplomacy, the major issue of range anxiety among potential customers can only be addressed using technology.

Unlike gas-powered vehicles that can be refilled in a matter of minutes at pumping stations that are almost ubiquitous today, electric vehicles (EVs) come with the burden of long charging times. EV makers are working closely with battery manufacturers to resolve these issues, and CATL seems to have hit a sweet spot with its Qilin batteries since they not only promise a 621-mile (1,000 km) range but also fast-charging in just 10 minutes.

How is 'Qilin' Killing it?

The Qilin batteries are based on CATL's third-generation cell-to-pack (CTP) battery system, which uses prismatic lithium-ion cells. CATL claims that it has achieved record-breaking 72 percent volume utilization efficiency with this battery which has an energy density of 255Wh/kg.

CATL's groundbreaking Qilin battery pack promises a 621-mile range for EVs

To put this into context, CATL's own first-generation batteries had a volume utilization efficiency of 50 percent. InsideEVs found that the cooling plates that were arranged on top of the prismatic cells by CATL before have now been placed between the cell lines in the new battery. This has reportedly increased the heat transfer area of the cell by as much as 4x and allows the battery to withstand prolonged 4C charging.

The resultant effect is that the Qilin batteries can go from 10-80 percent state of charge (SOC) in just 10 minutes while also supporting a "hot start" in about five minutes.

Comparisons with Tesla

Interestingly, CATL, the world's largest EV battery manufacturer by market share, has chosen to compare the efficiency of its Qilin batteries to that of the 4680-type cylindrical cells that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has spoken about time and again.

In the press release, CATL states that its Qilin batteries will deliver 13 percent more power than the 4680 battery that it also manufactures. Additionally, the third-generation battery will also deliver a higher volumetric integration, better thermal efficiency, and faster-charging rates.

CATL has announced that it has now entered into a strategic partnership with ZEEKR that will ensure that the Qilin batteries are available to the EV maker first. ZEEKR plans to launch them in Q1 of 2023 with its ZEEKR 009 model, its new all-electric MPV.

In the next quarter, it will roll out its ZEEKR 001 with Qilin batteries and deliver the 621-mile (1,000 km) range with this vehicle. The ZEEKR 001 hit the markets in late 2021, but the EV maker aims to launch the first series-produced EV with a range of 1,000 km with the new Qilin batteries.

Motor Authority reported that Qilin's range estimates are based on tests conducted in China, and the stricter test cycles used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. could see these numbers drop. Nevertheless, CATL's new generation battery is likely to drive up competition in the 500-mile range options that are available for customers in the near future.

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