SK Group is making an investment in a U.S. electric vehicle (EV) battery developer to secure a competitive edge in technology. As the group announced to invest more than 2 trillion won (US$1.76 billion) in EV battery business alone over the last six months, it is said to be accelerating its move to seek for “post semiconductor” business.
SK Corp. invested 28.70 billion won (US$25.32 million) in SolidEnergy Systems Corp. and secured a 13.1 percent stake in the U.S. firm at the end of last year, according to the business community on March 17. SolidEnergy Systems is currently developing an ultralight battery for aerospace products and it is planning to introduce “Apollo,” a battery which has two times higher battery cell capacity than the existing one and is about the size of half, next year.
In particular, SolidEnergy Systems has the lithium-ion battery production technology using lithium metal foils in addition to technologies related to lithium-metal batteries which have doubled in performance compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.
SK Group has been recently making a very rapid and aggressive move to secure the competitiveness in the EV battery sector. In November last year, the group acquired a whole stake in China’s Lingbao Wason Copper Foil Co., which produces copper foil, a key part of secondary batteries, for 271.10 billion won (US$239.17 million) and announced its plans to build a 9.8 gigawatte hours (GWh) EV battery manufacturing plant in Georgia with an investment of US$1 billion (1.13 trillion won). It also announced its plans to invest 945.20 billion won (US$833.88 million) to construct its second battery production facility in Hungary last month. Notably, SK Group is making various attempts to strengthen its battery competiveness by spinning off the material business unit, tentatively named SK IE Materials, which is in charge of material business, including lithium-ion battery separator (LiBS), next month
With the latest acquisition of the stake in SolidEnergy Systems, SK Group has shown its will to focus more on improving technologies related to batteries. In fact, SK Innovation Co. signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with U.S. battery technology developer PolyPlus Battery Co. to jointly develop a lithium metal battery earlier this year. SK Group is seeking to advance its battery technologies at the group level.