LG Chem Expects 70% Increase In Battery Cell Sales This Year


Opel Ampera-E LG Chem Battery

Opel Ampera-E LG Chem Battery

LG Chem is having a banner year in terms of battery sales and with several newly launched plug-ins (Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, etc) hitting the market and being equipped with LG cells.  It seems the battery maker’s sales will continue to increase at a rapid pace.

Pacifica's 16 kWh battery (via LG Chem)

Pacifica’s 16 kWh battery (via LG Chem)

LG Chem recently reported that it expects its battery sales to exceed 1 trillion won (US $856 million) this year. If it hits that mark, then sales will have increased 70% over 2015 (700 billion won).

Yonahp News adds:

“The Korean company has been working on 83 business projects, along with 29 carmakers, valued at some 36 trillion won.”

“LG Chem will have an annual capacity of over 280,000 batteries when its EV plant in Poland is completed. It currently operates EV battery plants in China, the United States and South Korea.”

LG Chem’s future outlook calls for battery sales to hit 7 trillion won in 2020. That would be 7 times more than its expected sales in 2016.

Source: Yonhap

Categories: Battery Tech, General


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69 Comments on "LG Chem Expects 70% Increase In Battery Cell Sales This Year"

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I find it interesting that this industry is being dominated by LG/Panasonic, yet how many American companies have we heard from over the years, claiming some battery breakthrough or another.

It is not just American companies but US universities and US gov agencies who have breakthroughs and then sell the patients to foriegn companies or sell use of them…

Of course this sounds bad but if US companies are not willing to compete and take risks who else is going to make them…
There are a number of US battery start ups that have been bought out by the Chinese which goes back to US investors being to risk adverse…

They’re not “breakthroughs” until I can buy them.

Until then, they’re just “research”

You can already buy some of that reaearch in phone batteries…

Ever heard the saying, “There are liars, damn lairs, and battery suppliers.”

The bigger reality is scaling a “lab breakthrough” up to production usually reveals a technical or cost issue which makes the idea not commercially viable. Sometimes there is also poor execution mixed in that ends some ventures.

“yet how many American companies have we heard from over the years, claiming some battery breakthrough or another.”

Naw that was just scammers soaking up taxpayer money via Obama.

Actually, American backwardness is due to big companies’ severe underinvestment (and divestment), compounded over the long term by German & Asian economies’ excellence in applied manufacturing knowledge. The Chinese now are far ahead in the number of people who know how to make use of advanced machinery.

We have good scientists . . . but manufacturing engineers . . . we lack in that area.

Perhaps, but check out these Chinese guys making stuff. If they did this in US, entire company would be shut down. Thank you, lawyers!

That’s incredible! I can’t believe they made it that way!

Utmost respect for those guys talents.

This is just forging of a large part. Take a look at YouTube. The same thing is done in the US and other countries. The only difference is it would be indoors.

Well, not the only difference.

They would probably use different tools other than two forklifts.

But yeah, it would be barely indoors. Just in a pole barn really.

If done in US, not only will it be indoors with sound proofing, but it will have inspections upon inspections and guys will be wearing hard hat and lot more than flimsy shirt and jeans. They’d also need far more guys who get paid much more. They’d also need to use far more than simple fork lifts to roll the thing around due to regulations.

I’m not knocking regulations (much), but the fact that Chinese can make stuff in ad-hoc environment is what gives them the competitive edge in manufacturing. Even if Chinese get paid the same wage as US workers, they can still make them cheaper and quicker turn due to fewer regulations.

Here is open die forging in Sweden:

this stuff takes skill to do regardless where it’s done.

Look at the Chinese guys vs this video. Chinese are using what looks like re-purposed pyle driver to do almost everything, even punching holes, and using fork lift that can be used to load pallets. This video show many dedicated equipment and knowledge to use them. If company in this video tried to make things like the Chinese video, they’d be shut down, or at the very least not have anyone want to work under those conditions.

Worker safety is part of a civilized society.

There’s limit to how much worker safety. You can’t shield them from every possible hazard. It’s subjective what is “safe enough”. I think we take it too far in US for some industries.

The company would go bankrupt because of all the manpower needed long before the lawyers even had a chance to do something.

Let China and other developing countries with cheap manpower do the work that can’t be automated more cheaply. Developed countries can focus on more refined and high-tech work and industries.

The goal is to increase the minimum wage to get rid of unwanted low-tech jobs and to manufacturer more with less people at less cost so that people can focus on more important things than working.

In an ideal world, increase in minimum wage would have effect you describe. People can’t get jobs, so they go to school to learn new stuff for better job. If this is the case, why go for $15/hr? Why not go for $25/hr, which is average income (about $50K/yr)? Why not $1000/hr and make everyone become lawyers?

Reality is far different. People simply drop off the job market (aka, become poorer) or seek other menial jobs. Those other menial jobs, if not automated, will command higher price, which has the effect of increasing price for everything else (ie, inflation).

One can see such effect in Silicon Valley. When even entry level typists (aka, software developers) make well north of $100K, things go up in price that’s unique to the area, namely the real estate. Taken nation wide, price will go up on almost everything, severely affecting the middle class and poor who don’t have savings that track inflation.

“I find it interesting that this industry is being dominated by LG/Panasonic, yet how many American companies have we heard from over the years, claiming some battery breakthrough or another.”

It’s dominated by Panasonic. LG Chem talks a big game, but the fact is that they are, or at least very recently were, just a second-tier player. According to an EV Sales Blog article from last August (see link below), here was the ranking of major li-ion battery makers and their percentage of the market for the first half of 2016:

36% Panasonic
18 BYD
11 AESC (Nissan)
7 LG Chem

Increasing production by 70% sounds like a fantastic accomplishment for a single year, but at best it would only move LG up to the #3 position, and that only barely.

With everybody and his dog clamoring for LG Chem’s new, cheaper cells, I find it inexplicable that they aren’t ramping up production much, much faster than they are.


I ironically Panasonic will be up about 60% assuming Tesla hits 80k+ sales this year. Since Panasonic started with a 5x market share, LG’s market share could actually go down.

This is looking at it from a volume perspective. LG probably gets more $/kW than Panasonic seeing how they have more projects and diverse customers.

LG real growth will come next year with volume production of Bolt.

The Bolt will likely soak up most of the remaining capacity in LG’s South Korea plant. But that’s just shy of 2 GWh in 2017, maybe pushing to 3 GWh in 2018. LG would then maybe be in the 5-6 GWh production range across all manufacturers in 2017.

Tesla is approaching 7 GWh in 2016, and will be in the 20 GWh range in 2017. That will be more than LG, Samsung SDI, and SK Innovations put together. That’s basically all the producers of the most advanced LIBs for the automotive market. BYD and others that make LiFePO4 are not really interesting outside of developing nations since the chemistry is an evolutionary dead end and the specific energy is too low for competitive vehicles.

The Korean cluster in battery research and manufacturing, withmultiple competing big firms chasing a diverse set of customers on several continents, is inherently stronger than Tesla with its multiple-single-points of failure.

I don’t like it, but that’s reality. It didn’t have to be that way if American companies invested in research and advanced manufacturing to compete over the long term.

Some companies are helped by their governments, conservatives in the U.S. don’t believe in that.
When you create and innovate but can not get the capital to go further you do what you have to. Tesla would have never been without a government loan.

I work there, I can guarantee we are growing almost faster than we can keep up. Great place to work by the way!

Since we are talking batteries here is Ghosn’s opinion of auto companies making batteries for everyone who thinks auto companies have to have a gigafactory…


Well, just like when Ghoson planned the Leaf and had to also plan to manufacture batteries to get the scale he needed, so has Tesla been forced to push the issue by building batteries.

Tesla is also trying to morph into a bigger more diversified company that sells energy systems, not just cars. It’s a sweet vision, and I wish them well. They made a smart decision to partner with Panasonic and leave the cell construction to them.

The article was clearly aimed at Tesla.

It would be far more believable if Nissan was not now leading up the rear on EV battery capacity, and lagging in sales.

Remember those photos of the Nissan dealership full of Leafs? When I turned in my Leaf lease there were about 10 of them on the same lot, and they weren’t moving.

It like the whole argument over renting a house or paying a mortgage to own. There are plus and minuses to both. I think it’s hard to argue which is better. If an outside supplier can guarantee supply, while keeping costs low, than that’s probably the best option, but those are big if’s.

Yogurt said: “Since we are talking batteries here is Ghosn’s opinion of auto companies making batteries for everyone who thinks auto companies have to have a gigafactory…” Sour grapes from someone running a company (Nissan) which invested a lot in building battery factories so they could ramp up production of the Leaf, but failed to keep up on battery pack tech, and so has seen their share of the PEV (Plug-in EV) market shrink. I think we’ll have to wait and see what history has to say about which is better: Relying on the market for commodity batteries, or building your own battery factories. One thing is certain: If a PEV maker wants to ramp up production quickly, as Tesla is doing, then it’s going to have to build its own. Battery makers are understandably cautious about overbuilding capacity. That happened not so long ago, back in 2012-13, with the result that — for example — Envia went bankrupt and A123 nearly did so. It’s due to this caution, I think, that Tesla hasn’t been able to get Panasonic to ramp up production as fast as Tesla needs, and that’s why Tesla is spending billions to build a battery Gigafactory.… Read more »

The two most successful BEV manufactories are Tesla and BYD. Both are also real battery makers, they have technology, research and production in their own hands.

Carlos Ghosn got only the production in house and his procurement departement dropped the ball bigtime. He has to buy everything his supplier NEC can make, and NEC has no incentive to improve its product.

No wonder he wants to get rid of his battery factories. But I hope someone can convince him to get rid of NEC and the procurement deal instead.

Nissan (+ Datsun + Infiniti) and Renault (+ Dacia) and Mitsubishi and Lada among them have enough opportunities get these factories 100% occupied. Especially if he buys Kreisel Electronics.

That’s an article by Bertel Schmitt, a professional Tesla hater. Well, yeah, if you are going to suck at doing something, then sure, have someone else that is more competent do it for you. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense for someone else to do it. Tesla/Panasonic have a great relationship and together are building far more capacity and pushing far more than Panasonic or Tesla could by themselves. Panasonic needs Tesla’s demand generation and Tesla needs Panasonic’s manufacturing expertise with battery cells. Tesla add their own pack integration expertise as well as two very large demand generators… long range BEVs and stationary storage. Tesla/Panasonic cells are, simultaneously, the cheapest per kWh, the highest specific energy, and have held up extremely well in the cars. Nissan’s BEV batteries are pretty expensive per kWh, terrible specific energy, and have some of the worse cycle life. Clearly, battery technology is not a core competency for Nissan and that doesn’t bode well for them. That also doesn’t make them an instructive case for Tesla. The fact of the matter is that if an automaker wants 100+ GWh battery plant, they better pony up some money to convince a supplier that they are… Read more »

So who are LG Chem’s customers?
GM – Volt/Bolt/CT-6
FCA – Pacifica Hybrid
Lucid Motors (ehhhhh)

Who else?

Ford, through Compact Power, a subsidiary of LG.

Ah, one of my favorite games – “how many contracts does LG Chem have?” Just for “fun” I’ll start with how many I can name off the top of my head … with the rules being the plug-in (or ESS system) has to still be in production, or confirmed headed into production (so no Spark EV, ELR stuff): Volvo V60,Volvo XC90, Hyundai Sonata PHV, Kia Optima PHV, Renault Twizy, Renault Zoe, Chevy Bolt EV/Opel Ampera-e, Lucid Air, Chevy Volt, SAIC (China) Siemens ESS, Ford Focus Electric, Qoros (China), Faraday whatever on Jan 3rd, Samsung SM3 (nee Renault Fluence), Tesla Roadster update, Dongfeng (China), Audi e-Tron Quattro SUV, unnamed national Iranian EV, Great Wall (China), Changan (China), Nanjing Golden Dragon (bus), 2 other in the commercial Chinese OEMs (not gonna name them as I would butcher it), Cadillac CT6 PHV, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Chrysler Crossover SUV PHEV (likely shown off in about 3 weeks…due late 2017/early 2018), AES ESS systems, smart ED fortwo, smart ED forfour, Hyundai IONIQ EV, Hyundai IONIQ plug-in hybrid …ok my brain is hurting, I’m sure I missed a bunch more – feel free to add to the list I started…but no cheating by looking it up,… Read more »

showoff… I mean captain! =)

You listed all that from memory?!?!

WOW! Jay is the man! 🙂

LG Chem’s list of customers is even longer than I realized! In fact, a lot longer.

“Chrysler Crossover SUV PHEV (likely shown off in about 3 weeks…due late 2017/early 2018)”

Please tell me this will scare to life a VoltUV. Been waiting about 3 years for it now.

They took over the Ford Fusion Energi too (new longer range one).

Renault, Nissan, Audi (VW)

Pretty much everyone except Tesla.

BYD is another notable exception.

LG is emerging as a big competitor to Panasonic, but Panasonic is killing it with Tesla and Toyota.

Lucky Gold could sell SO MUCH MORE, if their clients weren’t just about just meeting CARB goals…

They’d have to, you know, build a gigafactory or something, to keep up with real demand. We’ll see how well Poland works out for them. 😉

Instead of building one huge factory, they have built many factories around the world. I leave it to the reader to determine which solution is superior.

If the many factories around the world had a capacity of 150 GWh plus of packs then maybe they could compete with the economies of scale of Tesla/Panasonic.

Despite the more complex logistics but LG doesn’t and is not planning to do it.

Since when is building in one place a way to reduce logistics?

Unless you only sell in one area of the world building in only one area of the world is not an advantage. You have to ship things a lot further.

It certainly simplifies logistics if your suppliers are in the same industrial park as the assembly plant. That’s what Ford did at its River Rouge complex, and it’s what Tesla is doing with the Gigafactory.

In at least some cases, if not most, parts can be delivered by conveyor belt, rather than having to be shipped in via rail and/or truck. That pretty much eliminates any problems with delayed or lost shipments, as well as minimizing the cost of inventory in transit.

According to our favorite battery gurus from Tesla, the ideal is vertical integration to the level of raw materials in, finished products out.
And have this battery factory reasonably close to your car plant.

Tesla has a car plant that needs about 35gWh for 500k cars in Freemont,CA. They build GF1 in Nevada.

LG-Chem has a lot of small customers all over the world. They need smaller plants close to their customers to accomplish the same as Tesla. Minimize logistics inefficiencies.

Same principles under different circumstances give different results.

LG Chem will be making battery cells for the Bolt in S. Korea. The Bolt will be assembled at GM’s plant in the Orion Township, near Detroit.

Not seeing how that’s an advantage as far as placement of the battery factory. What is an advantage is that the currently strong U.S. dollar makes it cheaper for GM to buy batteries made in S. Korea, and perhaps LG Chem can minimize costs at its home location there.

It’s “Lucky Goldstar”. 😉

Life’s Good for Lucky Goldstar. 😉

Awesome! 🙂

Only 70%? With Bolt, I thought it’d be more like 700%. I guess they gave huge discounts.

With the Bolt only available for half a month in 2016 it’s hard for it to make any difference at all.

For 2017 it will have more of an impact. 😉

I thought GM would have to purchase them few months in advance, or sign even longer purchase deals? But if it’s COD, then, yeah, 2017 would see huge increase.

It was reported some years ago that LG Chem makes contracts for delivery in industrial quantities two years in advance. Assuming that’s true, then GM had to contract for delivery of Bolt batteries back in late 2014, or earlier.

By sales it basically means deliveries. So even if the sales department gets a contract for 2017 or 2018 it’s not counted until that year.
Then it’s “just” an order put into the order stock.

I know understand your confusion at least. And if we look at orders then 2016 has been brilliant for LG Chem, a lot more than 70% increase.

Maybe that’s the case. It would’ve been more informative if they also had kWh delivered.

It is 2016 figure.

Just wait for 2017…

“Annual production of 280,000 batteries”:

Presumably this also includes ‘battery pouches’ to make batteries as GM uses.

Remember the dozens of Big Expert comments about “How could (fill in the blank) POSSIBLY compete with 300,000 reservations for the Model 3?”

280,000 mostly large batteries for EV’s EVERY YEAR sounds like a relatively stout battery manufacturing operation to me.

And this is just one Korean company.

Bill Howland said:

“280,000 mostly large batteries for EV’s EVERY YEAR sounds like a relatively stout battery manufacturing operation to me.”

And that’s why LG reports production in number of cells, rather than GWh. If they reported the latter, then it would be much more obvious that their production is only a small fraction of Panasonic’s.

That’s not to say that LG will never be able to match Panasonic/Tesla for output, but their announced plans to ramp up production even faster than Panasonic/Tesla have proven to be laughably overstated, at least so far.

Maybe they really will start ramping up rapidly next year? Or maybe not.

This is batteries, not cells. It’s entire packs. Each pack would have 100-300 pouch cells (depending on car).

I’m not sure what Pushy is saying here. LG wouldn’t want to report in number of cells because LG’s cells are far larger and thus less numberous. Tesla uses 5,000-ish cells to make a 60kWh pack. GM uses less than 300 to make a 60kWh pack.

If you go by cells Panasonic and Tesla look like they are making much more output than everyone else. Well, okay, they are, but it inflates the figures even more. GWh is a better comparison when comparing different cell types.

Yes, GWh is the proper way to compare output of battery manufacturers. And by that measure, Panasonic is making about five times as many as LG Chem, or at least did in the first half of this year; Panasonic’s 3.088 GWh vs. LG Chem’s 0.623 GWh.

LG is just a second-rank player that is talking big, but not delivering all that much. Furthermore, with Tesla/Panasonic starting up the Gigafactory to supply the Model ≡, LG’s market share will likely drop even further over the next two years as compared to Panasonic.

Stats in the article linked above, but here it is again for those who didn’t bother to look:

unlucky said:

“This is batteries, not cells. It’s entire packs.”

Wait, what number are you talking about? Surely not the 280,000 figure that Bill Howland cited, because there’s no way that that LG Chem alone is supplying packs for that many plug-in EVs per year. That’s why I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that it was the number of large format cells.

If the number really is battery packs, then perhaps it’s mostly small battery packs for mild hybrids? Otherwise, I just don’t see how LG could possibly make that many when their output in GWh is such a small fraction of Panasonic’s.

You assumed wrongly. There’s no way that’s cells. It takes 300 cells to make one Volt. That would be supply for less than 1,000 Bolts. GM likely has already made over 1,000 Bolts. Also, if they expect to cell $850M in “batteries” and about 280,000 batteries, that would mean each battery costs $3,000. That’s much more than a single cell. That’s a pack. Or if not an actual pack, it’s the entire group of cells that make up a pack. Look at the pictures at the top of this article. See the things called “batteries”? They’re packs. It’s certainly smaller packs than Tesla uses. A whole minivan is getting only 16kWh in the picture above. I don’t know why you think they can’t sell 280,000 packs in a year. Look at how many customers they have. And a lot in China, where plug-in sales are higher than in the US (I think that counts NEVs though). It’s not 280,000 250 mile range EVs, but it’s 280,000 plug-in packs. Your article linked above, again, is entirely backward-looking. It says nothing about what happens going forward. Yes, LG didn’t sell many Bolt packs 1H 2016 because GM didn’t make many Bolts in… Read more »

If I remember correctly, the capacity of the Nissan battery factory in Smyrna, Tennessee is 250,000 batteries of a little over 20kWh for the leaf, that is 5gWh.

LG-Chem has a great variety of customers, many making PHEV with undersized batteries.
It is anybody’s guess whether LG-chem will have more capacity in gWh than the single Nissan factory in the USA.

Indeed Nissan’s Smyrna TN has a pre-planned maximum capacity of about ~4.8 GWh and ~150,000 EV gliders off the line.

However, one should note it is not at all tooled for this sort of production, but is ‘future-proofed’ (in the same way the Tesla Gigafactory will not be producing at near its maximum run rate ability in 2017…or 2018…or 2019).

We aren’t aware of what the initial/actual run rate target is for LG Chem in Poland once it is up and running, but Nissan in Smyrna is currently operating somewhere around a max ~700 units (glider/battery) per week heading into 2017 on the existing platform, so it has a ceiling around ~1 GWh if levels remain unchanged.

Of note: 3rd party data has yet to tally any one individual US battery facility to produce north of 1 GWh in any one calendar year, but LG’s Holland, Michigan plant is anticipated to be the first to best that figure this year with the addition of the Pacifica Hybrid…and Nissan ‘could’ also hit the number – depending of course on timing of new/upgraded offerings.

That % increase from 2015 to 2016 is the same as the global increase for battery makers as a whole from 2014 to 2015 (for EV cars only, not incl. buses or other vehicles),
not bad at all.