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Samsung SDI hints at new EV battery plant in US

Details of SDI-Stellantis joint venture to be announced soon, CEO says

By Lee Ji-yoon

Published : March 17, 2022 - 15:38

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Samsung SDI CEO Choi Yoon-ho speaks at an annual gathering of shareholders at a Seoul hotel on Thursday. (Samsung SDI) Samsung SDI CEO Choi Yoon-ho speaks at an annual gathering of shareholders at a Seoul hotel on Thursday. (Samsung SDI)
Samsung SDI CEO Choi Yoon-ho on Thursday hinted at the possibility of building the battery maker’s own plant in the US, a burgeoning market for electric vehicles where the company is setting up a joint venture with Stellantis, the maker of Jeep, Fiat and Peugeot vehicles.

“Adding to the joint venture with Stellantis, we think there needs to be our own production base in the US,” Choi told reporters after a general meeting of shareholders in Seoul.

“We are considering diverse ways to beef up production capacity there.”

Last year, Samsung SDI announced it would set up a joint venture with Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, in the US to produce battery cells and modules for EVs. With the production set to start in the first half of 2025, the company aims to elevate the production capacity from 23 gigawatt-hours to 40 gigawatt-hours.

The location has not yet been revealed. Choi said they are finalizing the talks with the local government on tax benefits and other incentives.

“We will be able to announce the location soon,” he said.

“Securing more clients is crucial in the battery business. We are in talks with multiple carmakers for possible partnerships other than Stellantis.”

Choi, former Samsung Electronics chief financial officer, took office in December in a year-end executive reshuffle. He was also promoted to vice chairman, the first Samsung executive to assume the title outside Samsung Electronics, the group’s crown jewel.

During the shareholder meeting, his board membership was also approved in a majority vote, giving him a big boost to run the key Samsung unit.

“We will become a top-tier company by 2030 with the best product quality and profitability,” he said.

Compared to its crosstown rivals LG Energy Solution and SK on that have made massive investments in recent years, Samsung SDI has been less aggressive in spending as it appears to be focusing more on improving profitability.

Choi, however, dismissed the view, saying, “Investment policy can be seen from different perspectives. We are making investments in line with the market’s growth.”

In the day, the company said it has confirmed this year’s dividends 1,000 won ($0.82) for common shares and 1,050 won for preferred shares.

The limits for the compensations payable to board members were decided at 16.5 billion won, down 2.5 billion won from last year due to business uncertainties.