SK Innovation discloses plans to build second battery plant in China

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-05-15 10:28 Updated : 2019-05-15 10:28
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[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- Undeterred by a patent dispute with its domestic rival, SK Innovation stepped up efforts to expand the production of batteries for electric vehicles by disclosing plans to build a second plant in China. The site and size of the new plant have yet to be decided.

SK Innovation (SKI) said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that its board has approved 579.9 billion won ($487 million) for an investment to build a new battery plant in China. SKI said the new investment reflects the "China Insider" strategy of co-growth through productive cooperation with China.

SK has built a battery plant in Changzhou in China's southeastern Jiangsu province. The company plans to secure a capacity of 60 GWh (gigawatt hours) by 2022 through expanded facilities in China, Hungary and the United States. SKI's battery plant in the United States will be built in Commerce in Jackson County, Georgia.

SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won is nurturing the battery business as the group's sustainable growth engine. German auto giant Volkswagen has selected SKI as the fourth strategic supplier of battery cells to cover its demand in North America.

SKI, a latecomer in the global battery market, was entangled in a legal dispute this month when LG Chem, a top battery company in South Korea, asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban SKI batteries in the American market and filed a lawsuit with a district court in Delaware.

LG Chem accused SKI of producing batteries with technologies leaked by transferred employees. SKI warned of strong legal action if LG Chem goes ahead with undue accusations to crab competitors, insisting it has acquired a top level of technology through consistent investment in research and development. SKI has accused LG Chem of hurting national interests by bringing a dispute over intellectual property rights to a U.S. court.