By Kim Bo-eun
Local battery material makers are seeking to set up factories in the U.S., where Korean battery manufacturers are expanding production in a bid to capture opportunities in the fast-growing U.S. market for electric vehicles (EVs).
LG Energy Solution has set up a joint venture with GM ― called Ultium Cells ― under which the two companies are building two battery factories, one in Ohio and another in Tennessee. LG is also preparing to invest 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) into a new plant that it will run independently.
POSCO Chemical, which produces cathode and anode materials for EV batteries, will be supplying the materials to Ultium Cells, as well as separately to LG.
Given its major clients’ U.S. production expansions, the POSCO affiliate stated in April that it is looking into building a plant in the U.S. The company now has a taskforce that is reviewing sites for overseas plants in Europe and the U.S.
“A number of factors will be taken into consideration, including closer proximity to client companies, as well as tariff benefits offered by governments, as a means to attract production plants to their countries,” a POSCO Chemical official said.
SK Innovation is building two of its own plants in the U.S. state of Georgia and will set up a joint venture with Ford to produce EV batteries. The SK battery maker’s materials affiliate, SKIET, said it would monitor the U.S. market and decide whether to build a plant there around 2024. SK and Ford’s plan to set up a battery production facility under their joint venture, BlueOvalSK, however, may speed up SKIET’s decision.
“The specifics of the SK-Ford joint venture will need to be laid out before SKIET reaches a decision,” an SK Innovation official said.
Given that LG and SK’s joint venture plants need time to be constructed, battery material makers have some time on their hands before they begin preparations to set up plants in the U.S.