PLANO & SEOUL, June 6 (Korea Bizwire) — Electric vehicle super-fast charger manufacturer SK Signet has established a production base in Texas to take advantage of the “Buy America” policy, which promotes American-made products.
On Monday morning, the company held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of its first U.S. production plant in Plano, Texas. It announced plans to commence mass production of high-performance products next month, targeting the U.S. market. SK Signet aims to achieve sales of 1 trillion won within two years using the new U.S. factory as a stepping stone.
SK Signet sees the U.S. market as a prime opportunity due to the country’s vast land area and long average driving distances, which will likely lead to increased demand for fast chargers of 150 kW or higher, particularly along highways.
Shin Jeong-ho, CEO of SK Signet, expressed confidence in utilizing 100 percent of the company’s U.S. factory facilities by 2025, projecting annual sales of 1 trillion won by then. Shin believes that while the global charger market is expanding due to the growing popularity of electric vehicles, the U.S. market, in particular, will experience even faster growth, thanks to the government’s subsidized charger installation policy.
SK Signet has been gaining market share in the U.S. by securing numerous large orders from charging station operator Electrify America (EA), which is installing EV chargers nationwide.
In the U.S. EV charger market, Tesla dominates with 12,995 installed chargers for its vehicles. However, excluding Tesla, SK Signet holds the largest share (over 40 percent) of the general-purpose fast charger market, boasting 1,604 chargers over 150 kW. This surpasses ABB’s 1,134 units and BTC’s 891 units.
The Texas plant will start mass-producing SK Signet’s V2 400 kW-class ultra-fast charger in July. It is the highest output product manufactured in the U.S., offering greater efficiency by linking two chargers with the V2′s power conversion unit, PowerCabinet, which can deliver up to 600 kilowatts per unit.
Each charger can simultaneously charge four vehicles with both ports, providing efficient charging options.
SK Signet, previously known as Signet EV, changed its name after SK Corporation acquired it in March 2021 with an investment of approximately 290 billion won. Signet EV, established in 2016, was a global leader in developing 350-kilowatt ultra-fast chargers and became the first foreign company to obtain U.S. certification in 2018.
Before the acquisition, Signet EV had already secured over 50 percent of the U.S. ultra-fast charger market.
Following the acquisition, SK Signet has witnessed strong growth supported by the conglomerate’s substantial resources. In October of last year, the board of directors approved an initial $15 million (approximately 20 billion won) investment to construct a new production plant in the United States.
The recently completed SK Signet Manufacturing Texas (SSMT) plant spans a total area of 57,727 square meters (15,345 square feet), with a building covering 12,694 square meters (3,840 square feet), enabling the mass production of 10,000 ultra-fast chargers annually.
Combined with SK Signet’s domestic production capacity of around 10,000 units per year, the company’s total production capacity will reach 20,000 units per year with the inclusion of the Texas plant.
The Texas facility will focus on producing the V2, which surpasses the capabilities of existing chargers. The V2 is an ultra-fast charger capable of delivering up to 400 kilowatts through a single port, making it unmatched by any U.S. competitors.
By connecting two chargers, up to four vehicles can be charged simultaneously, with each vehicle receiving 150 kilowatts of output. Most current EVs on the market have a maximum charging power within the range of 150 to 350 kilowatts.
Using a V2 charger, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 can reach 80 percent capacity in just 15 minutes. Ultra-fast charging times are typically measured until the vehicle reaches 80 percent, at which point the electric vehicle automatically switches to a slower charging mode to prevent overload.
Starting from July, the Texas plant will mass-produce and commercialize the V2 charger.
Notably, products manufactured in Texas will be eligible for the U.S. government’s “Buy America” program, which offers subsidies and preferential treatment to domestically produced goods, giving them a competitive edge in the local market.
The U.S. government introduced the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI) in November of last year, with the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act providing $5 billion grants over five years for the construction of super-fast charging stations every 50 miles (80 kilometers) along highways.
Additionally, $2.5 billion over five years is earmarked for the establishment of charging stations along local public roads and in parks.
Subsidies will be provided to charging station operators (CPOs) for the installation of chargers that meet specific requirements, making it crucial for CPOs to select manufacturers that fulfill the criteria.
To qualify for the subsidies, chargers must adhere to the “Buy America” requirements, including final assembly in the U.S. and the use of U.S.-sourced steel for the enclosure (casing). Starting from July, at least 55 percent of the charger’s components must be U.S.-sourced.
SK Signet is well-positioned to benefit from the U.S. government subsidies due to its ongoing collaboration with U.S. suppliers to prepare for the production of enclosure products using U.S. steel.
In fact, when the White House announced detailed “Buy America” standards for electric vehicle chargers in February of last year, it highlighted SK Signet’s Texas plant as an exemplary case, emphasizing how the policy encourages private companies to manufacture in the U.S.
M. H. Lee (email@example.com)