Battery suppliers from South Korea are moving production to the U.S. to compete with Chinese rivals.
According to a report from Korea IT News, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage requiring U.S.-made batteries and battery materials in electric vehicles, South Korean companies are seizing the opportunity to compete with Chinese battery suppliers who have dominated the market. Samsung, SK, LG Chem, and more are leading the seismic shift in where battery material production and assembly occurs.
There are some key components in the production of batteries: anode material, cathode material, electrolyte, separator material, and fire safety materials (primarily graphite). Production of raw resources and assembly into lithium-ion batteries has been dominated by Chinese suppliers such as CATL. Still, many companies are opening new facilities in the U.S. and South Korea to challenge the market leader.
In producing cathode and anode materials, EcoProBM and POSCO Chemical are looking to grow production outside China, mainly in the U.S. EcoProBM is looking to expand its current raw material output from 50,000 tons to 200,000 tons by 2024 and will be looking to do so at both existing South Korean plants and a new U.S. production facility. POSCO Chemical is aiming to grow production to 220,000 tons by 2025 and 440,000 tons by 2030 via a new U.S. production facility. POSCO Chemical is also one of a few companies looking to start production of artificial graphite in the U.S. via a new production facility.
Enchem, another South Korean company, is also looking to expand production in the U.S. Their facility will focus on electrolyte and separator materials.
These companies are working to feed an ever-increasing number of battery assembly factories from Samsung, LG Chem, and SK in the U.S. that are looking to meet North American demand for EVs. It is unclear how Chinese manufacturers will respond or if companies such as CATL will consider moving production to the U.S. to compete with these new domestic suppliers.
How will this affect EV prices around the world? It could lead to lower EV prices in the U.S. Domestic manufacturers will now be closer to suppliers, reducing the materials’ shipping costs. When vehicles like the Ford F150 Lightning have seen dramatic price increases due to battery supply shortages, this could be welcome news to consumers. Yet there is still a lot of time before production and assembly in the U.S. will reach a level that will influence prices.
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