Chairman Choi Tae-won of SK Group is drawing attention by revealing his will to target the electric vehicle battery market in the United States. SK Innovation has continued to work on development of battery technologies and it has been accelerating its investments in South Korea and foreign countries in order to look for opportunities in the electric vehicle battery market that is growing as the ‘second semiconductor’ for South Korea and is showing signs of intense competitions between global automakers and battery makers.
When asked by President Moon Jae-in regarding whether SK Innovation’s prediction on growth of the electric vehicle battery market is faster than its initial expectation while the president was visiting SK Innovation’s battery plant in Georgia on Sunday, Chairman Choi replied by saying the prediction includes little bit of his desire.
In other words, his response indicates that the market is expected to grow faster than the initial expectation as SK Innovation is building two battery plants in the United States at the same time and as other battery makers have also been aggressive when it comes to investment in electric vehicle battery. His response also indicates that SK Innovation will be more aggressive than any other battery maker when it comes to investment in electric vehicle battery.
Before the summit between President Moon Jae-in and President Biden, Chairman Choi announced that SK Innovation will build a 60 GWh joint battery manufacturing plant with Ford by investing $5.3 billion (6 trillion KRW). The size is enough to manufacture 600,000 electric ‘F-150’ equipped with 100 kWh electric vehicle batteries.
It is likely that President Moon wanted to personally look at electric vehicle battery business and make a request to Chairman Choi to take the initiative in developing South Korea’s electric vehicle battery industry by visiting SK Innovation’s plant in Georgia with Chairman Choi.
SK Innovation is currently building two electric vehicle battery plants in Georgia. The first plant is expected to go into operation next year and manufacture ‘NCM (nickel, cobalt, manganese)’ batteries that are scheduled to be supplied to Volkswagen for its main electric vehicle model called ‘ID.4’. The NCM batteries are high-nickel batteries that have nickel content of at least 80% and have reduced cobalt content under 5%.
The company is also working on the second plant in order to supply batteries to Ford. Once the plant is constructed at the end of next year, SK Innovation plans to manufacture high-nickel NCM batteries with nickel content of 90%. 70GWh worth of batteries are scheduled to be supplied to Ford annually through SK Innovation’s second plant along with the joint manufacturing plant between SK Innovation and Ford. Aside from these two plants, SK Innovation is also preparing to invest in two additional plants in the United States.
“Considering the contract signed with Ford, SK Innovation has obtained orders equivalent to 1,000 GWh batteries and worth more than $115 billion (130 trillion KRW).” said CEO Ji Dong-seop of SK Innovation’s Battery Division at the company’s plant in Georgia. “Our company will continue to expand the global supply chain according to demands from the battery market.”
SK Innovation plans to secure production capacity of 190 GWh by 2025. The company is currently building plants in the United States, Europe, and China. The three locations are the top three electric vehicle battery markets, and SK Innovation has been aggressively investing in these markets. The company’s goal is to become the top three battery maker in the world by 2025 by swiftly responding to growth of the electric vehicle battery market.
A representative from the SK Group said that SK Innovation plans to continue to establish various economic cooperation plans such as trade, investment, and joint R&D on private level based on activities in the United States.
Staff Reporter Kim, Jiwoong | email@example.com