The Korea Herald


With Ford, SK Innovation aims to become top battery supplier in US

By Kim Byung-wook

Published : Sept. 28, 2021 - 15:21

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SK Innovation’s battery factory No.2 in Georgia. (SK Innovation) SK Innovation’s battery factory No.2 in Georgia. (SK Innovation)
SK Innovation and Ford will inject $11.4 billion and create nearly 11,000 new jobs at three new battery factories in Tennessee and Kentucky to produce electric vehicles and batteries.

BlueOvalSK, a joint venture between the South Korean battery firm and the US automaker, will establish a twin lithium-ion battery plants in central Kentucky to power a new lineup of Ford and Lincoln EVs.

Another one will be set up in west Tennessee, where Ford workers will build next-generation electric F-series pickups and advanced batteries.

The joint venture will inject $5.8 billion into the Kentucky facilities and $5.6 billion in the Tennessee one.

Scheduled to begin production in 2025, the three, each with a capacity of 43GWh, will together churn out 129 gigawatt-hours of batteries per year, which is enough to power 2.15 million EVs mounted with a 60-kilowatt battery pack.

The joint venture will allow SK Innovation to rise as the largest battery producer in the US put together with its independent production capacity of 21.5 GWh in Georgia. Also, SK Innovation would far exceed its goal of securing a global production capacity of 200GWh by 2025.

SK Innovation’s hometown rival LG Energy Solution aims to achieve a combined production capacity of at least 140GWh by 2025, which is slightly lower than that of SK Innovation.

“SK Innovation will take a leap together with BlueOvalSK and fulfill a shared vision towards a cleaner Earth,” Jee Dong-seob, chief of SK Innovation battery chief, said, during a partnership ceremony attended by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

The joint investment is the largest one in Ford’s 118 years of history and the greatest battery investment made in the US, according to both companies.

The 129GWh project is more than double the initial capacity of 60GWh the two companies planned in May when they agreed to form a joint venture BlueOvalSK, each holding a 50 percent stake.

The joint project is expected to give a further boost to SK Innovation, which aims to split off its battery business next month into a wholly-owned subsidiary, tentatively named, SK Battery. SK Innovation is likely to take the subsidiary public after the second half of 2022.

Meanwhile, Samsung SDI, the last member of Korean battery trio, is mulling its first battery cell plant in the US, but the firm hasn’t disclosed an official plan yet.