The world’s largest battery maker doesn’t need Ford or Tesla. It’s global carmakers, desperate to go electric quickly, that need the Chinese behemoth. In recent months, news that Contemporary Amperex Technology Company, or CATL, will make its way to US soil with partners like Ford and Tesla has rustled feathers. The increasing number of automakers turning to this Chinese firm that has dominated the market for years raises a broader question: How did a single company manage to position itself as such a critical cog, with the world so dependent on it? Even though few are willing to accept this reality, CATL’s strong hold comes from more than just size. Its batteries are in Teslas, Mercedes and many other EVs. The Fujian-based firm has backed realistic technology, carved out targeted partnerships and tapped viable markets for production at ever-lower prices. The ways it scaled products and its facilities are key: licensing intellectual property and taking minority stakes. Where possible, CATL has built huge factories and invested in raw material mines for a grip on supplies. The firm has gone deeper into the value chain and backed small EV companies, too.