South Korea is Really Going for It in the U.S. Battery Market

By Matthew McMullan
Jan 18 2023 |
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Another joint venture with an automaker is in the works, with plans for an electric vehicle battery plant in Ohio.

South Korea’s energy manufacturers, citing industrial policy passed in Washington last year, are putting a lot of money into facilities in the United States.

First consider this week’s announcement that LG Energy Solution, a battery manufacturer, just detailed its plans with Honda to build a lithium-ion battery factory in Ohio, the output of which will go into the electric vehicles (EVs) the automaker will sell in the North American market. A major component of the Inflation Reduction Act requires that many key inputs in EVs, like their batteries, must be made in America. The two companies have been planning this for a while, but this week’s announcement makes it official: The plant will be in Jeffersonville, about 50 miles from Honda’s existing automotive plant outside Marysville. It doesn’t yet have an EV factory in the states. But the key word there is “yet.” The joint venture, the companies predict, will create about 2,000 jobs.

This follows on news that LG and GM have secured a hefty federal loan to open a series of battery plants in Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan, with a fourth considered in Indiana. The batteries produced at these plants will show up in your future Chevy. This venture is reportedly expected to create 6,000 construction jobs and then another 5,100 production jobs, once the plants are completed.

And it’s concurrent with news that LG has signed a deal with another South Korean company, Hanwha, to build out more production and energy storage systems in the U.S., in response to the burgeoning clean energy market here that is being spurred by the IRA and the money it makes available. Hanwha is the parent company of QCells, the solar panel manufacturer with a presence in Georgia that just announced a major expansion there. That one’s gonna create 2,500 jobs.

According to a market analyst quoted by Dutch news outlet Batteries News, South Korean companies are on the verge of greatly expanding their share of the EV battery market in the United States, of which it already controls about a quarter. LV also has a battery plant coming online up in Ontario, which is a joint venture with the company that owns the Dodge brand, Stellantis. From the article:

The construction of a total of 11 joint battery factories worth billions of dollars was announced by battery makers and automakers in the North American region over the past three years, and of those, Korean battery companies are involved with nine.

This adds up to a lot of money being spent in the States, and a lot of jobs being created, and it definitely won’t be the end of them. The spending the IRA is generating is gonna end up in a lot of different places across the country.