SK Innovation CEO Kim Joon has expressed his intention to expand its electric vehicle battery production plants in the U.S. and Hungary. Kim made the announcement in an interview with Reuters in Las Vegas on Jan. 9 (local time) when he visited the CES.
“Asian battery makers will increase battery production in the U.S. to avoid tariff barriers and meet demand from local carmakers,” Kim predicted.
Related to the planned expansion of the production plant, he said, "Cumulative contract orders as of the end of September last year increased to 500 GWh from 320 GWh the previous year, and expansion of production facilities will help us cope with this," he said, adding, "The additional investment plan means that the battery sector can reach the break-even point in 2022 after a year than expected."
In March last year, SK Innovation held a groundbreaking ceremony for its 9.8 GWh electric vehicle battery production plant in Commerce, Georgia. Mass-production is scheduled to begin in 2022. In addition to this, SK Innovation plans to invest about 1 trillion won to have the second plant similar to the first plant in production volume.
Production at the second plant is expected to be around 10GWh per year. Kim, however, did not elaborate on where the batteries were supplied. SK Innovation is also reportedly considering expanding its second plant under construction in Hungary to increase production of batteries supplied to Volkswagen in Germany.
The initial output at the second plant in Hungary was planned to be 10GWh per year, but the output could rise to 16GWh if production facilities are expanded.
Regarding the lawsuit with LG Chem, he said, “We are considering all means to resolve the legal dispute, including an agreement with LG Chem. We will keep our contract and promise with customers of the completed car.”