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EV battery investment ramps up

Jan 19,2018

Korean manufacturers of electric vehicle batteries are stepping up investment and technological development to meet growing demand for zero-emission cars.

Jun Young-hyun, head of Samsung SDI, recently said the growing market for electric car batteries will boost its business. Samsung SDI, he said, aims to firmly “secure a bridgehead” for growth this year.

The company, part of Samsung Group, is set to begin operations of a battery production line for electric vehicles in Hungary in 2018.

The electric car battery market has been on the rise as carmakers around the world have been racing to go electric amid tightened regulations on greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are to blame for global warming.

LG Chem, a key supplier of batteries to global carmakers like Audi and Renault-Nissan, is pushing to increase orders from automakers and companies that handle energy storage systems.

In 2016, LG Chem broke ground on an electric vehicle battery plant in Poland. The 400 billion won ($372 million) facility, set to be complete by the end of 2018, will have an annual production capacity of more than 100,000 batteries.

SK Innovation said it would invest more than 1 trillion won to boost electric vehicle battery production and meet growing demand.

It is set to break ground on a 840 million won factory in the northwestern Hungarian city of Komarom in February.

Beginning in 2020, the 430,000-square-meter (106-acre) plant will be capable of producing cells with a combined 7.5 gigawatt hours per year.

Komarom is home to the assembly lines of German automaker Audi and is not far away from the plant of another German car manufacturer, Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz.

SK Innovation also announced a plan to expand its electric vehicle battery production lines in Seosan, South Chungcheong. The latest investment will raise domestic production capacity of cells to a combined 4.7 gigawatt hours.

Batteries to be produced in the new Seosan facility could enable a car to travel upwards of 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a single charge, according to the company.

SK Innovation is Korea’s top oil refiner, but it has been pushing into the electric car battery business since 2008 as part of efforts to find new revenue sources.

According to market researchers, the global battery market is expected to increase from annual 25 GWh in 2016 to 110 GWh in 2020 and between 350 and 1,000 GWh by 2025. Yonhap