Three leading lithium-ion battery manufacturers from South Korea – LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation have declared investment plans for a combined 2.6 trillion won ($2.3 billion) by 2020 into their battery businesses.
Samsung SDI battery cells
One fifth, (610 billion won) is to be spent on R&D, while the balance (2 trillion won) goes into expanded production facilities in South Korea (LG Chem’s Ochang plant, Samsung SDI’s Ulsan plant and SK Innovation’s Seosan plant).
Representatives from the trio, as well as battery material and equipment companies, recently met with South Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu to talk about the future of battery business, tightening competition, job creation, the cobalt pricing surge, and serious problems with subsidies in China.
Since December 2016, New Energy Vehicles with batteries from South Korean manufacturers are excluded from subsidies in China, which makes competition impossible in the country. SK Innovation even halted its plant in China in February.
“They, however, pointed out that they are suffering due to the Chinese government’s hostile measures against Korean battery companies. Last December, the Chinese government excluded electric vehicles with Korean batteries from gaining subsidies. Since a subsidy is nearly half the electric vehicle price, the exclusion means there will be no ground for Korean battery makers. The Chinese government made the decision as an apparent economic retaliation against Korea for its deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Korea.”