In 2017, only six years after it was founded, CATL became the world’s largest electric-vehicle battery supplier, beating out stalwarts like Panasonic, LG, and Samsung to get there.
As it grew to these levels, the company was building out its headquarters in the city of Ningde, in China’s southeastern province of Fujian. Ningde wasn’t chosen at random—it’s the hometown of CATL’s 51-year-old founder, Zeng Yuqun. And such was his love for the place, that CATL’s Chinese name 宁德时代, means literally “Ningde era.”
In 2018, when CATL listed on the the Shenzhen stock exchange, Yuqun and three others became billionaires. The company growth that led to that windfall is reflected in swelling of its host city, as well.
Between 1998 and 2018, the change in Ningde’s growth was clearly visible from space:
The company employs some 15,000 people and provides housing to many of them on the industry’s campus. To support employees’ lives outside of work, there are shops and even a kindergarten on site.
The company didn’t let our photographer inside the factory; the photographer was able to explore the company’s campus and even get a look at CATL’s expansion in the region. And CATL sent us a few of its own images of its factory interior.