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Battery plants

LG Energy may build US, Europe plants to supply new batteries to Tesla

By Mar 10, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

LG may supply advanced battery cells to Tesla.
LG may supply advanced battery cells to Tesla.

LG Energy Solution Ltd. may build an electric vehicle battery plant in the US to supply advanced battery cells to Tesla Inc. for its new models to be rolled out in 2023.

The top South Korean battery maker is also considering building a new battery production line in Europe to supply to Tesla’s Giga Berlin, and Spain will likely be the candidate site.

LG Energy, which recently broke away from LG Chem Ltd., said last week that it plans to build a US factory where it will make battery cells for EVs and energy storage systems to cater to US and global customers as well as startups.

According to a Reuters news report on Wednesday, LG did not identify potential customers, but one of the sources approached by the media outlet said it was hoping Tesla would buy the batteries.

In September, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk announced an ambitious plan to develop new cells in-house, prompting suppliers like LG and Panasonic Corp. to embrace the unproven technology or risk losing a major customer in the longer term.

The Korean supplier has made samples for the so-called 4680 large-format cylindrical cells, Reuters reported, citing one of the sources.

An LG Energy Solution plant in the US
An LG Energy Solution plant in the US

4680 BATTERY STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT

The report said LG Energy has not yet secured orders from Tesla for the 4680 cells, still under development. For now, Tesla is boosting orders for 2170 cells used in the Model 3 and Model Y vehicles made in China.

LG declined to comment on the Reuters report, and Tesla officials could not be reached for comment.

Unveiling the 4680 battery at its Battery Day in September 2020, the Tesla CEO said the company would continue to use, and even increase the purchase of, batteries supplied by LG, Panasonic, China’s CATL and others.

LG currently supplies smaller cells to Tesla for its Model 3 and Model Y EVs in China, while Panasonic supplies its batteries for Tesla cars manufactured in the US and Europe.

In the US., Ultium Cells LLC, LG’s joint venture with General Motors Co., is building a $2.3 billion EV battery cell manufacturing facility in Lordstown, Ohio.

LG Energy is also exploring building a second battery plant in the US with GM to solidify its position in the American market.

Write to Man-Su Choe at bebop@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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