In December 2019, SK Innovation (SKI), a subsidiary of South Korea's SK Group, completed the construction of BEST, a battery cell joint venture with Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings (BAIC) and Beijing Electronics Holding, in Changzhou in southern Jiangsu province. BESTs annual production capacity of 7.5 gigawatts per hour is enough for about 150,000 electric vehicles.
SKI has stepped up efforts to expand the production of batteries for electric vehicles. The company plans to secure a capacity of 60 GWh (gigawatt hours) by 2022 through expanded facilities in China, Hungary and the United States. SKI's U.S. plant will be built in Commerce in Jackson County, Georgia.
The BEST plant in Changzhou produces NCM 811, a new battery that allows electric vehicles to drive up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) on a single charge. The NCM 811 is a new model named after three chemicals -- nickel, cobalt and manganese -- and the proportion of nickel is high so that EV battery producers can save costs and extend the driving range.
Cobalt, an expensive rare-earth element widely used in lithium-ion batteries, is vulnerable to sudden price fluctuations. The current cobalt composition share in lithium-ion batteries differs by types of batteries, ranging from 10 percent to 55 percent. Nickel is also a key material used in making batteries but it is cheaper than cobalt.
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