S. Korean firms to boost presence in electric vehicle battery market

SEOUL-- South Korean makers of electric vehicle (EV) batteries are stepping up investments and technology development to meet growing demand for zero-emission cars.

Jun Young-hyun, head of Samsung SDI Co., has recently said the growing market for electric car batteries will boost the business of the battery-making unit of the country's largest conglomerate.

He said Samsung SDI aims to firmly "secure a bridgehead" for growth this year.

The company, part of Samsung Group, is set to begin operations of a battery production line for electronic vehicles in Hungary in 2018.

The EV battery market has been on the rise as carmakers around the world have been racing to go electric amid tightened regulations on emissions of greenhouse gases that scientists say are to blame for global warming.

"The market for batteries will grow rapidly as major global carmakers push forward the production of EV models due to strengthened regulations on emissions and fuel efficiency," an official of LG Chem Ltd. said.

LG Chem, a key supplier of batteries to global carmakers, such as Audi and Renault-Nissan, is pushing to increase orders from carmakers and companies and other firms that handle energy storage system.

In 2016, LG Chem broke ground on an electric vehicle battery plant in Poland. The 400 billion-won plant, set to be completed by the end of 2018, will have an annual production capacity of more than 100,000 batteries.

Meanwhile, SK Innovation Co. has said it will invest more than 1 trillion won (US$925 million) to boost electric vehicle battery production capacity to meet growing demand.

SK Innovation is set to break ground on a 840 million-won battery plant in the northwestern Hungarian city of Komarom in February.

Beginning in 2020, the 430,000-square-meter plant will be capable of producing EV cells with a combined 7.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.

Komarom is home to assembly lines of German carmaker Audi and is not far away from a plant of another German automaker, Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz.

It has also announced a plan to expand EV battery production lines in Seosan, 150 kilometers south of Seoul. The latest investment will raise domestic production capacity of EV cells to a combined 4.7 GWh.

Batteries to be produced in the new facility in Seosan could enable a car to travel upwards of 500 kilometers on a single charge, according to the company.

SK Innovation is South Korea's top oil refiner, but it has been pushing into the EV battery business since 2008 as part of efforts to find new revenue sources.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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