South Korea’s SK Innovation Co Ltd plans to build a second electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the United States and is considering expanding another factory in Hungary to meet soaring demand for EV cells, its chief executive told Reuters.
Kim Jun also said he expects more Asian manufacturers to make batteries in the United States instead of importing them to avoid tariffs and meet demand from U.S. automakers locally.
The investment comes as automakers race to adapt to increasingly stringent regulatory requirements globally aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. SK Innovation, South Korea’s biggest oil refiner, has rapidly expanded into EV batteries and Kim discussed further plans in Las Vegas on the sidelines of the CES trade show, as reported by Reuters.
According to Reuters, the plans are aimed at helping the firm cope with a surge in battery orders, at 500 GWh by 2019-end from 320 GWh a year earlier. However, Kim said, extra investment means the battery division could break even a year later than planned, in 2022.
The expansion plans come amid market concerns about a legal feud between SK Innovation and cross-town rival LG Chem Ltd in the United States, in which a win for LG Chem could stop SK Innovation importing EV batteries.