It's easy to see from this big gathering that is firmly committed to developing its own batteries -- and its ambitions don't just involve battery packs, but also point to cells, local media said.

(Image credit: CnEVPost)

NIO (NYSE: NIO) today held a battery partners forum in Hefei, Anhui province, where its factories are located, hinting at the electric car company's ambitions in battery manufacturing.

Local media outlet The Paper reported on the development, saying NIO founder, chairman and CEO William Li attended the event, and that a number of leading companies from upstream and midstream in the battery chain were also in attendance.

These companies included mining giants Tsingshan Holding Group, Zijin Mining Group, and Shenzhen Chengxin Lithium Group, battery recycler GEM, and other battery material companies including Zhicun Lithium, Ningbo Ronbay, Ningbo Shanshan, Beijing Easpring Material Technology, and Shenzhen Capchem.

It's easy to see from this big gathering that NIO is firmly committed to developing its own batteries -- and its ambitions don't just involve battery packs, but also point to cells, the report said.

Earlier today, Reuters reported that NIO plans to build its first battery factory to produce large cylindrical cells similar to those used by .

The new plant would have an annual battery capacity of 40 GWh and could power about 400,000 long-range electric vehicles (EVs), the report said.

The plant will be located next to a major manufacturing center in Hefei, a move by NIO to reduce its reliance on suppliers such as , according to the report.

Li confirmed in a June 9, 2022 earnings call that the company will develop its own batteries, saying at the time that NIO has a battery team of more than 400 people to research areas including battery materials, cells and battery management systems to fully establish battery system development and industrialization capabilities.

The company's new battery pack, which will go into production in 2024, will support 800V high-voltage fast charging, according to Li.

An environmental assessment report at the end of May last year showed that NIO plans to invest RMB 218.5 million in Shanghai, where its global headquarters is located, to build a lithium battery lab and cell trial line.

These latest reports mean that NIO perhaps more than ever needs to strike a delicate balance between its relationship with CATL and developing its own batteries.

According to a 36kr report last week, CATL has recently been pushing a program to several strategic customers, including NIO, , , and , to reduce their battery procurement costs.

The core terms of the partnership include that CATL will settle with car companies for a portion of their power battery supply at a price of RMB 200,000 per ton of lithium carbonate for the next three years.

However, EV makers that sign the partnership will need to commit about 80 percent of their battery purchases to CATL, according to the report.

The Paper said today that their reporters have asked NIO several times over the past week whether it has signed an agreement with CATL on the program, but the sources at the EV maker said they can't give a yes or no answer.

Several industry sources said the new car makers may still be on the fence at this point.

The reason for these EV makers' wait-and-see is that CATL's concessions do not involve baseline price negotiations, and battery pricing is still based on a base price and an additional cost linked to lithium carbonate prices, the report said, citing analysis by Huachuang Securities analyst Huang Lin's team.

CATL's proposed concession plan actually amounts to a price cut of about 4 percentage points, while it previously offered an average of 10 percent higher than second-tier battery makers, according to the team.

CATL's offer is still 6 percent higher than that of its smaller competitors after the concessions and the plan has harsh conditions, the team said.

CATL reportedly cutting battery costs significantly for some clients including NIO, Li Auto