SK Innovation starts work on first EV battery plant in US

South Korea-based energy firm SK Innovation kicked off construction this week on the company’s new electric vehicle battery factory in Commerce, Georgia.

The $1.67bn facility is SK Innovation’s first EV battery factory in the US and is expected to produce about 9.8 GWh in battery capacity beginning in 2022.

“Today’s groundbreaking marks an important step in SK Innovation’s blossoming partnership with the US, the state of Georgia and global automakers throughout the region whose collective confidence in our technology helped spur this investment,” said SK Group Executive Vice Chairman Jae-won Chey. “I have no doubt that today’s ceremony will go down in history as the beginning of a brand new chapter in global car development.”

The EV battery cells produced from the Commerce factory will be supplied to major global automakers with manufacturing operations in the US.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has forecasted that electric vehicles could account for half of all news cars sold in 2040. This market growth would also create huge demand and challenges on the power grid infrastructure, according to many reports.

If EVs are as much as 90 per cent of all cars by 2050, peak demand would grow by 18 GW, according to the UK’s National Grid.

With the addition of the 282-acre plant in Georgia, SK Innovation will have expanded its EV battery production base into four countries, including South Korea, Hungary and China. By 2022, with completion of the plants in the U.S., Hungary and China, SK’s EV battery capacity would jump six-fold to 60GWh annually.

Many automakers are jumping into the EV future, although much development waits on supply chain and charging infrastructure issues. Ford has said it would invest $11 billion on electric and plug-in hybrids by 2022, while General Motors plans to launch more than a dozen EV models in coming years.

Tesla is already producing multiple models and has plans for more, while Volvo, Mercedes and other automakers are rolling out ambitious EV production forecasts.

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