Contemporary Amperex Technology Company Ltd (CATL) has begun production of electric vehicle (EV) battery cells at its plant in Germany, a major milestone in the Chinese company’s overseas expansion.

Contemporary Amperex Technology Thuringia (CATT), the local subsidiary of the world’s largest EV battery producer, began output of lithium ion battery cells on a newly installed production line at its EUR1.8bn complex located in Thuringia.

CATL Europe president Matthias Zentgraf said in a statement: “The production kick off proves we kept our promise to our customers as a reliable industry partner and we stay committed to Europe’s e-mobility transition even under very challenging conditions like the pandemic. We are working hard to ramp up production to full capacity, which is our top priority for the coming year.”

The company said CATT received a Thuringia permit for battery cell production in April 2022 for an initial capacity of 8 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of battery cells per year.

The plant had earlier started battery module assembly in 2021. Additional production lines were scheduled to come on stream at a later stage, increasing overall capacity to 14 GWh per year with 2,000 workers.

CATL last month held a ground breaking ceremony for a new US$2bn Chinese EV and energy storage battery cell plant in Jining, Shandong.

The company was also reported to be in discussions with Ford to establish a battery factory in the US.