SEOUL, April 28 (Korea Bizwire) — SK Innovation Co., South Korea’s leading refiner and chemical company, said Tuesday that it will invest US$727 million in building its second electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the United States.
The investment in SK Battery America, which is wholly owned by SK Innovation, is meant to further boost production of EV batteries to meet soaring demand for all-electric vehicles amid a global push for zero emissions.
The EV battery market has been on a roll as automakers around the world race to go electric due to tightened regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
SK Battery America is set to break ground on the second EV plant with a capacity of 11.7 gigawatt-hours in July. The plant, whose location has yet to be determined, is scheduled to begin mass-producing EV batteries in 2023.
SK Innovation has already invested 1.9 trillion won in building its first EV battery plant with a capacity of 9.8 GWh in the U.S. state of Georgia. The first plant is on track to begin mass-producing EV batteries in 2022.
The move would raise SK Innovation’s global output capacity to 71 GWh, enough to supply batteries to more than 1.4 million electric vehicles.
SK Innovation said it aims to boost its capacity to 100 GWh by 2025.
Currently, SK Innovation has three plants in operation in South Korea, China and Hungary.
SK Innovation is South Korea’s leading refiner, but it has moved into the EV battery business since 2008 as part of its efforts to diversify its operations and find new revenue sources.
SK Innovation’s announcement comes as the U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) plans to make its final ruling in early October on an EV battery trade secret case that LG Chem Ltd. filed against SK Innovation.
In February, the ITC made a preliminary ruling in favor of LG Chem and made a default judgment without having additional hearings or investigations.
In November, LG Chem asked the ITC to make an early decision on the case and recognize that SK Innovation misappropriated and used its EV battery trade secrets.
LG Chem claimed that SK Innovation spoiled evidence in the case and is guilty of civil contempt, saying that its local rival did not follow the ITC’s digital forensics orders.
LG Chem and SK Innovation have been at loggerheads over EV battery-related trade secrets since last year, filing multiple lawsuits in the United States and South Korea.