SK Innovation announced on March 20 that it held a groundbreaking ceremony for an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant at Commerce, Jackson County, Georgia in the United States on March 19 (local time).
The plant represents SK Innovation’s first direct investment in the United States and is expected to provide the company with a bridgehead to the U.S. market, one of the biggest battlegrounds in the world electric car market.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held with the attendance of about 200 people including U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Governor of Gerogia Brian Kemp, SK Group executive vice chairman Chey Jae-won, and Kim Joon, president of SK Innovation.
"It has become possible to start another big project thanks to the support of global automakers that believed in SK's battery technology and business capabilities and cooperation from the State of Georgia," Chey said. “I am sure that this groundbreaking ceremony will strengthen Korea-U.S. economic cooperation through partnership in the EV industry and set a milestone in the history of automobile development in the United States and the world."
"SK, a global leader in the fields of energy, chemistry and telecommunications, has embraced new industry dynamics to produce innovative products such as EV batteries. This process injects new vitality into the U.S. economy," US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. "SK's investment in EV batteries will contribute to shoring up America’s real competitiveness in the era of fast-growing electric cars. Korea and the United States have enjoyed the most powerful alliance for nearly 70 years. I sincerely thank officials of SK and local government officials on behalf of the president."
"Today, the day of beginning the largest investment in Georgia's history, is a very exciting and meaningful day for hard-working Georgian people," Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said. “I would like to express my gratitude to SK Innovation which practiced ‘togetherness’ and ‘happiness’ by delivering donations to the development of education for youths and students in Georgia, in addition to making the investment in our state.”
Commerce City, which hosts SK Innovation’s production base in the United States, is located about 110 km northeast of Atlanta, the capital of Georgia.
This plant will be built based on SK Innovation's strategy of winning orders first and expanding production facilities later. After winnin long-term EV battery supply contracts with global automakers, the company secured land of 1.2 million square meters in Commerce City and started basic construction work such as land leveling work in February.
SK Innovation plans to invest a total of US$1 billion in the project through its local subsidiary SK Battery America. The plant will be completed in the second half of 2021 and will start mass production in early 2022. When the plant is completed, its annual production capacity will be more than double the 4.7 GWh of SK Innovation’s plant in Seosan, Korea. By 2025, the company will invest US$1.67 billion in total to expand the U.S. plant.
Moreover, SK Innovation is considering expanding mid- to long-term investments in anticipation of an increase in orders. Through these investments, the company aims to become a global EV battery giant by securing a production capacity of 60 GWh per year by 2022.
Located in the southeastern part of the United States, Georgia is growing fast as a manufacturing mecca. The state is also home to not only Lockheed Martin and other leading companies of the United States but Tata Group of India. In particular, as global automakers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Volvo, Hyundai and Kia are located in the southeastern region of the United States, Georgia is considered the best location in terms of future growth potential.