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Bosch seeks more independence in Samsung car battery venture

Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s biggest car-parts supplier, is in discussions with joint venture partner Samsung SDI Co. about producing more electric car batteries independently of each other.

Bosch has been discussing greater autonomy from its partner in the SB Limotive joint venture for at least a month as it seeks to react more quickly to customers’ demands, Udo Ruegheimer, a spokesman for the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said by telephone.

“All customer contracts are decided jointly, so it takes time to reach a decision even if something is more in one company’s area of expertise,” Ruegheimer said. “We are evaluating whether we can react more flexibly on an individual basis if this agreement did not exist.”

SD Limotive began in 2008, with production starting two years later. The two companies said at the time they planned to invest $500 million jointly in the venture over the following five years. The unit takes advantage of Bosch’s expertise in battery systems, while exploiting Samsung’s experience in cell production.

When the first battery systems would be produced outside of the joint venture is dependent on what orders the companies receive, Ruegheimer said. An agreement would also give Samsung more freedom to produce car battery cells independently, he added.