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HEV batteries

Hyundai Motor, SK Innovation join forces on hybrid car battery development

Apr 16, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai Motor, KIA and SK Innovation ink partnership on hybrid car battery development. From left: Choi Woo-suk, head of Hyundai Motor & KIA's electrification center; Kim Yoo-suk, head of SK Innovation's battery marketing division; Park Chan-young, head of Hyundai Motor & KIA's powertrain parts purchasing division; and Lee Jang-won, head of SK Innovation's battery research institute (Courtesy of Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor, KIA and SK Innovation ink partnership on hybrid car battery development. From left: Choi Woo-suk, head of Hyundai Motor & KIA's electrification center; Kim Yoo-suk, head of SK Innovation's battery marketing division; Park Chan-young, head of Hyundai Motor & KIA's powertrain parts purchasing division; and Lee Jang-won, head of SK Innovation's battery research institute (Courtesy of Hyundai Motor)

South Korea-based automakers Hyundai Motor Co., KIA Corp. and electric vehicle battery maker SK Innovation Co. have joined forces to jointly develop hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) batteries, according to the automakers on Apr. 16.

The companies will cooperate to develop a pouch-type battery optimized for electric vehicles. The newly developed batteries will be equipped on Hyundai Motor's hybrid cars set for release in 2024.

Industry watchers say that the companies have formed a collaboration model that is set to spearhead the industry.

TIES STRENGTHENED POST-MEETING

Last July, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won met to share future goals and discuss the battery industry, which led to collaborating on electric vehicle battery leasing and recycling the following year.

The latest collaboration further reinforces their partnership as they expand into battery development. The goal is to create an economical battery with outstanding performance.

"We plan to cooperate across all areas, including battery development, design, production and quality assurance," said Park Chan-young, head of the powertrain parts purchasing division at Hyundai Motor & KIA.

The automakers will design a hybrid car battery optimized for Hyundai Motor and KIA cars based on their extensive know-how in battery technology and vehicle design. They will verify materials that determine the battery's performance and safety, alongside selecting battery specifications.

Previously, SK Innovation had worked with Hyundai Motor and KIA on the IONIQ 5 and the EV 6, electric vehicles powered by the Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).

Hyundai Motor's EV model, IONIQ 5
Hyundai Motor's EV model, IONIQ 5


Hyundai Motor and KIA anticipate the collaboration to not only enhance battery performance but also to upgrade the competitiveness of hybrid cars.

"We will strive to steer the future mobility industry together," said Lee Jang-won, the head of SK Innovation's battery research institute.

HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP TO MOVE INTO EV BATTERY PRODUCTION?


Until now, Hyundai Motor and KIA used LG Energy Solution's batteries in all of their hybrid cars. The capacity of hybrid car batteries averages around 1 to 2 kilowatt-hour (kWh), far below EV battery capacity of 60 to 70 kWh. Due to this, hybrid car batteries were not widely used in vehicles and had failed to create a sizeable market.

However, industry watchers say that Hyundai Motor and KIA have stepped up to embrace battery design and development given the rapidly growing hybrid car market.

In the first quarter of this year, sales of domestic hybrid cars stood at 34,005 units, up by 85.6% from the same period last year. The sales and growth rate of hybrid cars far exceeded EVs and hydrogen cars -- which logged 9,279 units and 1,644 units in sales, up by 35% and 33.7%, respectively.

Despite the growing interest in EVs, current sales are strong for hybrid cars as they are relatively free from the factors that make people hesitant to purchase EVs -- such as price, mileage and charging infrastructure.

Starting with hybrid car batteries, industry watchers say it is plausible for Hyundai Motor and KIA to also develop and produce EV batteries. Currently, Hyundai Motor Group is conducting research into solid-state batteries, dubbed as the next-generation battery. 

Hyundai Motor Group is planning pilot production of cars equipped with solid-state batteries in 2025, to kick off mass production in 2030.

Write to Il-gue Kim at black0419@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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