Skip to content
  • KOSPI 3267.93 +2.97 +0.09%
  • KOSDAQ 1015.88 +12.16 +1.21%
  • KOSPI200 435.02 +0.29 +0.07%
  • USD/KRW 1129.5 11.80 1.04%
  • JPY100/KRW 1,024.26 14.82 1.45%
  • EUR/KRW 1,345.52 5.01 0.37%
  • CNH/KRW 175.73 1.20 0.68%
View Market Snapshot

EV battery JV

Samsung SDI mulls EV battery JV in US; partnership with global automaker

Korea’s battery trio strengthens tie-ups with US firms under Biden presidency

By Jun 09, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

The InterBattery 2021, a battery industry exhibition being held in Korea until Friday.
The InterBattery 2021, a battery industry exhibition being held in Korea until Friday.

Samsung SDI Co., one of South Korea’s top three electric vehicle battery makers, is considering launching a battery production joint venture in the US with a global automaker to gain ground in one of the world's biggest auto markets.

If realized, Korea’s battery trio, including LG Energy Solution Ltd. and SK Innovation Co., would all have production facilities in the US, strengthening US-Korea battery partnerships in line with President Biden’s push for a green transportation policy.

Asked by reporters at an industry fair in Seoul on Wednesday about Samsung SDI’s plans to build a battery factory in the US, Chief Executive Jun Young-hyun said, “We are in the process of reviewing it. We have been preparing for an entry into the US market.”

The InterBattery 2021, which runs through Friday, is Korea’s largest battery industry exhibition hosted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. About 230 Korean and foreign companies are attending this year’s event to showcase their technologies, according to the organizers.

Currently, Samsung SDI operates battery manufacturing plants in Korea, Hungary and China. In the US, it runs a battery pack assembly line in the state of Michigan.

The Samsung SDI CEO declined to elaborate, but industry watchers said the company will join hands with a global automaker to launch a production JV in the US.

Samsung SDI's latest EV battery system
Samsung SDI's latest EV battery system

STELLANTIS, BMW AMONG POTENTIAL PARTNERS

Potential candidates include Stellantis N.V., a Dutch-domiciled multinational automaker, and Germany’s BMW, both among Samsung SDI's key customers.

Stellantis, which has global names such as Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot and Maserati under its wing, is the world’s fourth-largest automaking group. In Europe, it runs a battery JV with an affiliate of French oil giant Total.

Reporters at the battery event also questioned whether Samsung SDI’s US joint venture, once launched, will also seek new customers such as Tesla Inc. CEO Jun said the company “leaves open the possibility.”

The company is expected to announce detailed US investment plans by year-end, according to industry officials.

Samsung’s move comes as its two Korean rivals are raising their investments through their partnerships in the US to ride on the Biden administration’s push for green and renewable energy projects.

SK Innovation said last month it signed an initial agreement with Ford Motor Co. to launch a 6 trillion won ($5.3 billion) JV, named BlueOvalSK, to manufacture batteries in the US.

SK Innovation's EV battery plant under construction in Georgia
SK Innovation's EV battery plant under construction in Georgia

The two sides are looking for multiple sites in the US to build at least two battery plants with a combined production capacity of 60 GWh a year, enough to charge some 600,000 all-electric pickup trucks, according to SK.

On Wednesday, Ji Dong-seop, SK Innovation’s battery business chief, told reporters the company is looking at “four to five sites” for the construction of the JV’s new battery plant.

Industry officials said the US states of Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee are among the candidates.

INCREASING TIE-UPS

SK Innovation is already constructing two battery plants worth $2.6 billion in the US state of Georgia, which will supply EV batteries to Ford and Volkswagen AG. The first plant is set to begin operations in the first quarter of next year, with the second plant scheduled for mass production in 2023. The second plant will be dedicated to making batteries to be used in Ford’s F-150 pickup.

LG Energy Solution has already set up an EV battery JV with General Motors Co.

Their JV, Ultium Cells LLC, is building a $2.3 billion EV battery cell manufacturing facility in Lordstown, Ohio. The 30 GWh-capacity plant is expected to begin operations in 2022.

GM and LG Energy Solution announce the construction of their 2nd Ultium Cells plant in Tennessee.
GM and LG Energy Solution announce the construction of their 2nd Ultium Cells plant in Tennessee.

In April, LG and GM announced that they will spend 2.7 trillion won ($2.4 billion) to build their second US EV battery plant in Tennessee, which should double their EV battery output in the country. Their battery JV aims to complete the new plant with an annual production capacity of 35 GWh by the first half of 2024.

Since US President Joe Biden’s inauguration early this year, global automakers and EV battery makers have announced a series of investment plans in the US.

Analysts said US companies will increasingly choose tie-ups with Korean battery players as the Biden administration is taking measures to hold China in check.

Under the US government’s tax break and incentive plans, battery makers can enjoy tariff-free benefits if their products are 75% manufactured in the US from July 2025.

Write to Kyung-Min Kang at Kkm1026@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

Comment 0

0/300