South Korean electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers are working more and more closely with automakers while working on products with higher energy densities.
At present, EV sales are increasing fast in Europe in particular under stricter carbon dioxide emission regulations. Last month, a total of 44,361 EVs, up 149 percent from a year earlier, were sold in Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Sweden. The sales volume increased 138.4 percent to 16,131 units in Germany and jumped 160.1 percent, 145.5 percent, 490.5 percent and 93.4 percent in France, Britain, Italy and Sweden, respectively.
The global EV battery demand is increasing, too. Last year, the EV battery supply and demand were 326 GWh and 190 GWh, respectively. However, the respective figures are estimated to reach 776 GWh and 916 GWh in 2023 after reaching 599 GWh and 458 GWh in 2021.
The sales of LG Chem’s EV battery business unit are expected to exceed 10 trillion won this year whereas the combined sales of the battery business units of the company were 8,350.3 billion won last year. Likewise, Samsung SDI’s EVB business unit is expected to show a sales growth of 70 percent this year and SK Innovation’s battery business unit is aiming to reach two trillion won in sales this year.
The companies have established multiple joint ventures to that end. For example, LG Chem set up a joint venture with Geely Auto last year and with GM this year. SK innovation is currently building a battery manufacturing plant in Yancheng, China with Eve Energy.
In addition, the South Korean companies are improving the energy densities of their products by increasing their nickel contents. As for EVs and EVBs, a higher nickel content leads to a higher energy density and a longer driving range. However, it results in a shorter battery service life and a lower level of safety at the same time. The companies are striving to overcome the technical limitations and SK Innovation is planning to reach a maximum driving range of 500 km in 2021.