Visiting South Korean companies to discuss facility construction
Beyond R&D, mass production seems to be in mind

It was confirmed that General Motors (GM) and Ford, the leading automakers in the United States, discussed the establishment of independent production facilities with leading domestic battery manufacturers in South Korea. Several equipment companies that met with GM and Ford predicted that they would purchase battery production equipment soon. GM and Ford are expected to build production lines for the purpose of R&D for batteries for electric vehicles immediately. Attention is paid to whether the companies will equip their own mass-production system after verification in the future.

According to industry sources on the 22nd, GM and Ford of the United States each visited South Korea last month and met with multiple battery processing equipment companies to discuss equipment orders. The two automaker companies met with domestic equipment manufacturers operating battery production processes such as lithium-ion battery electrode, assembly, and formation processes.

Both companies discussed the lithium-ion ternary system (NCM, NCA, NCMA), which is currently most widely used, rather than next-generation batteries such as all-solid-state batteries. GM showed interest in the prismatic and pouch production process rather than mid-to-large cylindrical batteries (standard 4680), and Ford is said to have met mainly with key partners of the three domestic battery companies: LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI, and SK On.

An equipment industry official stated, “GM and Ford are promoting the establishment of a lithium-ion battery pilot line. Although they did not disclose the purpose, we received the impression that they not only had R&D in mind but also the establishment of their own mass production system in the future.”

Another industry official said, "In the case of GM, it is likely that there will be an order for equipment soon. GM was very interested in the prismatic production line.”

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The industry heavily considered the possibility that GM and Ford will follow the steps of Tesla and equip their own mass production system while maintaining existing battery suppliers. For batteries, it is common to operate a pilot line for more than 6 months prior to building a production plant, create an independent battery system design for vehicle optimization and a manual, such as yield, and apply it to the actual production line.

GM has already built a cathode material joint venture with POSCO Chemical. There is a possibility that the cathode material will be supplied to the factory jointly with LG Energy Solution first and then used in its own factory in the future.

Hyundai Motor Group and BMW are currently operating lithium-ion battery pilot lines. Companies that have established or are planning to mass-produce systems include Volkswagen and Tesla.

GM, LG Energy Solution, and Ford are building joint factories with tens of GWh batteries per year in various places, including SK On and the United States.

By Staff Reporter Tae-jun Park and Ji-woong Kim (, (