SEOUL -- SK Innovation is pushing forward an aggressive strategy to increase the production of core materials for electric vehicle batteries in Poland despite concerns over German auto giant Volkswagen's switch to a new type of battery and a prolonged legal battle with its domestic rival.
SK Innovation (SKI) said its board has approved a new investment of 1.13 trillion won ($1.0 billion) to build third and fourth lithium-ion battery separator (LiBS) production lines in west Poland through its material making subsidiary, SK IE Technology (SKIET). Construction is to begin in the third quarter of 2021 for completion in 2023.
The first production line in Poland will be completed in the third quarter of 2021, and the second one in the first quarter of 2023. SKI said the new investment is aimed at increasing market share through preemptive investment, citing a significant increase in purchase demands and a possible shortage of supplies from 2023.
"By expanding the supply of safe separators based on our unique technology, we will help automobile consumers to dispel concerns about battery safety and lead the growth of the electric vehicle industry and our company," SKIET CEO Rho Jae-sok said in a statement on March 28. SKIET has LiBS plants in South Korea and China.
SKI and its domestic rival, LG Energy Solution (LGES), which have been locked in a patent lawsuit in U.S. courts, nurture battery-making businesses through a steady injection of capital for pre-emptive facility investment and technical development. However, share prices fell after their European client, Volkswagen, unveiled a massive push to reduce the cost of producing batteries and eventually switch to solid-state technology.
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