The US’ international trade watchdog is investigating allegations that Korean battery maker SK Innovation was involved in the theft of trade secrets from manufacturing rival LG Chem.
The US International Trade Commission (USITC) probe follows a lawsuit filed in the US by LG Chem and its US manufacturing subsidiary, LGCMI, whose pouch-type lithium-ion battery tech underpins what the company said is a “significant share” of the American electric vehicle market.
South Korea’s SK Innovation (SKI) is reportedly in talks to establish two separate battery production joint ventures— one with Volkswagen and another with Chinese partners.
SKI confirmed talks with Volkswagen in an interview with Reuters, saying the two companies were discussing building a factory together. SKI also said I was “on the cusp” of agreeing plans to build a plant in China with “undisclosed partners”.
The president of SKI’s batteries business YS Yoon told Reuters: “Our strategy is to keep up with technological advancement by having relationships with some of our key customers. Compared with rivals, we’ve been matching or exceeding investment in the (EV batteries) area since last year.”
SK Innovation is to start work on a factory in Poland to manufacture lithium-ion battery separators (LiBS) and ceramic coated separators (CCS) for electric vehicle batteries in Europe.
The South Korean group will break ground on the plant site in Województwo Śląskie in southern Poland in the third quarter of 2019— and expects to begin mass production in the third quarter of 2021.
SK Innovation intends to invest €335 million (US$378m) to realise four LiBS production units and three CCS production units on the 270,000 square metre site.
SK Innovation has broken ground on a US$1.1 billion electric vehicle batteries production plant in the US state of Georgia.
The South Korean group said the plant would have an annual production capacity of around 60 gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries annually by 2022— when full production is slated to start.
SK Group vice-chairman Choi Jae-Won said the facility— being built on a 278-acre site in Commerce City— would be completed in the second half of 2021 and help to strengthen Korean-US economic cooperation.
PolyPlus and SK Innovation are to jointly develop “the first rechargeable lithium metal battery with a conductive glass separator”.
The partners’ initial goal will be to produce and test prototype cells using California-based PolyPlus’ solid-state lithium anode laminate, which is describe as having “the potential to double the energy density and cycle life of rechargeable batteries”.
Under the agreement, financial terms of which have note been disclosed, South Korea’s SK Innovation will provide development funding, and will receive an option to make “a significant investment in Polypus” and an option to negotiate a licence to PolyPlus technology for use in electric vehicles.