South Korea’s Battery Makers Invest Big Bucks To Stay In The Lead

JAN 16 2019 BY MARK KANE 25

Manufacturers need to raise the bar to simply stay in the game

The three major South Korean lithium-ion battery manufacturers – LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation – are heavily investing in further growth to stay competitive in the global market.

Yonhap lists the latest investment plans, which will increase the production capacity several times.

LG Chem announced 3 trillion won (US$2.67 billion) projects:

Overall, LG Chem is expected to increase its output from 34 GWh to 110 GWh by 2020.

SK Innovation has a bold goal to increase its production capacity by order of magnitude – from 4.7 GWh to 55 GWh by 2022, which is just four years from now.

Besides launching a new plant for battery parts (separators and ceramic coating) in Changzhou, China (400 billion won or $357 million), SK Innovation announced expansion to the U.S. where will build a plant for lithium-ion cells in Georgia (9.8 GWh annually). The investment was estimated at $1.67 billion, but media already said that there is potential for at least twice more. Yonhap says the cost is to be morlikeke 1.14-trillion won ($1 billion).

SK Innovation has started new investment also in Hungary, Europe, where 7.5 GWh battery plant will be built in Hungary at cost of 840.2 billion won ($777 million) by 2022.

SK Innovation held a groundbreaking ceremony for the factory to produce EV batteries in Hungary

Samsung SDI seeks a second battery plant in China. The investment could be 1 trillion won ($891 million).

The new small facility in Hungary, Europe for up to 50,000 battery packs annually, is already up and running.

The question is whether Samsung SDI will be able to secure enough orders from the U.S. to build a battery plant also in North America – the company is present at the NAIAS, which shows that they are trying.

Samsung SDI batteries


Categories: Battery Tech

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25 Comments on "South Korea’s Battery Makers Invest Big Bucks To Stay In The Lead"

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Good plan. They are all outside of South Korea so that if the Socialist paradise north of them decide that they want more socialism, these companies can continue to make batteries.

If the hungry peasents, trained to walk in sync, try to invade by foot…

The would probably start running to seek asylum once they got over the boarder.

The crazy thing is that the hungry peasants of the North actually believe that their country is the most powerful nation on earth. Seriously.
When North Koreans have escaped from the North they are almost invariably shocked that North Korea is thought of as a belligerent pest, not a preeminent power. When you have all forms of public communications, you can tell any lie you like, and it will be hard for the people to know the truth.

They sunk a South Korean ship and bombarded South Korean island with artillery just in last decade. When there are thousands of artillery targeting Seoul and missiles aimed at major industrial production facilities, no walking or running is needed to turn the country to ash in matter of days.

If the north tried THEY would be the ash tray.

Koreans think otherwise. South Korea has a big labor shortage. The Chaebol’s are waiting for the North to collapse to exploit the labor pool up North.

You mean Chaebols want their factories bombed to ashes like with the island?

Why not stay on topic?

If SK company expanding in other countries instead of SK is not on topic, then what is?

You definitely want to look up the definition of socialism. North Korea is as close to socialism as capitalism is.

I guess we know now which batteries will be build in to the new VW BEV platforms…

No we don’t. Two different cell formats fit into the MEB platform. Just from that display you can see that LG offers different chemistries for the same format. We have no clue what is going to be in which car until either VW tells us or more realistically someone takes a screwdriver to the car.

And yet, despite all this investment in building out more capacity, demand for EV batteries is going to keep growing much faster than supply. I predict that lag will continue for the next decade if not longer.

Let’s see, the Chinese solar industry suffers from constant oversupply despite exponential growth of solar installations over the last couple of years. Don’t underestimate the amounts of cash that gets injected by countries (China and Korea both want to cement their position for good) as well as private investors and how quickly highly automated processes can be scaled. In addition you will have soon a legion of no name producers in China and South East Asia that will pop up once production equipment can be bought of the shelf.

“No name producers” in China have a habit of shipping product that’s far below the quality which they promised. In China’s industry, the concept of “Caveat emptor” (“Buyer beware”) has been taken to the nth degree.

But still, I very much hope you prove to be right, and I prove to be wrong. I’d love to see the bottleneck of EV battery cell availability ease off within a couple of years. That would allow the EV revolution to grow much faster!

I would not be so pessimistic. Once you have standardized machines (most produced in Europe and Japan) and standardized anode and kathode material made by a few large manufacturers, you have to try hard for poor quality. Most of those tier2 and 3 products will anyway end up outside the US and Europe, but it would be the fuel that drives the EV revolution in SE Asia, S America and Africa. Again if you look at the solar industry, some of the belittled cheapskates of the past (JA Solar, Trina Solar, JinKo Solar, LONGi, YingLi) are the biggest most respected producers worldwide, with far superior products than European or US manufacturers. I would see the biggest issue with resources or precursor materials, but this is hard to predict

Stay in the lead? I think Panasonic is the clear leader when it comes to battery cells, and Tesla is the leading pack maker.

LG Chem is already making 34GWh. The Gigafactory is supposed to make 35GWh at some point in the future.

I challenge you to prove that LG Chem is actually making 34 GWh. The simple answer is that they aren’t.

They are counting capacity that isn’t yet in operation.

They have 4 battery plants… Ochang, SK, Holland, MI, US, Nanjing, CN, and Wraclow, Poland. In 2017, they had actual production of 4.7 GWh. To count to 34 GWh, they would have to assume Poland is actually fully operational. It isn’t. Ochang also has to be fully built out. Their actual operational capacity is closer to 12-15 GWh.

LG Chem is nowhere near 34 GWh/year today. They have fallen to 4th place, behind Panasonic, CATL and BYD. They and #6 Samsung SDI are not growing anywhere near as fast as the leaders.

“LG Chem is already making 34GWh.”

Pretty sure they’re not making anywhere near that much in the way of EV batteries. Are you perhaps counting all of LG’s li-ion cell production, including batteries for cell phones, laptops and other consumer electronics?

You people don’t even read the articles you are commenting on.

GF isn’t the only Panasonic cell manufacturing site.

Panasonic makes 10 GWh for Tesla in Japan alone.

CATL is catching up fast, they were at a run rate of 3.4 GWh per month in November up from 1.5 in August. At that pace they match the output of the gigafactory. their investment and joint venture pipeline is also literally insane. Let’s see how it plays out, but more supply is good for all EV makers. competition hopefully will drive down prices and bring in new innovations.

The battery market keeps doubling every year so this is in line.

Suggests about somewhere in the 12million to 18million range for Ev production in 2022.