SK Innovation announces new electric vehicle battery gigafactory in the US

04 Dec 2018

Battery manufacturing companies are adding capacity to try to keep up with automakers going electric and the increasing demand for electric vehicles.

With this trend, SK Innovation announced today a new $1.67 billion investment to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery gigafactory in the US.

Aside from Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, most of the new battery cell manufacturing capacity is going to Asia and Europe, where automakers are more aggressively electrifying their lineups.

But SK Innovation says that some of its customers, namely Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai-Kia Motors, are going to need battery cells in the US and therefore, it is investing in local battery cell production.

The new battery factory is going to be in Jackson County, Georgia.

Jun Kim, CEO of SK Innovation, commented on the announcement:

“We are excited to bolster our presence in the United States by making this investment in Georgia. SK Innovation is a worldwide leader in the energy industry and this latest investment will allow us to work with the growing automotive industry in the Southeastern United States, ensuring future partnerships for years to come.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross added:

“SK Group’s investment in the state of Georgia is undeniable proof that President Trump’s economic policies are working for the American economy and American worker. I am delighted that a world-class technology company such as SK sees the merits of manufacturing in the United States. As similar companies across the world are discovering, there is no better place to do business than right here in America.”

SK says that the first phase will represent an investment of “approximately $1 billion” and it will create jobs for “more than 1,000 advanced manufacturing employees.”

They didn’t offer a timeline as they are still finalizing the plans.

Last year, SK Innovation said that it is doubling its battery production for electric vehicles to 4GWh per year at its South Korean factories to support demand from Mercedes and others.

The company is also building another electric car battery gigafactory in Hungary to support European automakers.

Electrek’s Take

This is a big deal. While SK Innovation didn’t confirm a production capacity, we are talking about gigawatt-hours of battery cells with that kind of investment.

Interestingly, they claim that it will be “the largest scale electric vehicle battery plant in the United States.”

Either they plan on beating Tesla’s Gigafactory 1, which has a current annual capacity of over 20 GWh and they plan to eventually have a capacity of 105 GWh, or they don’t consider Gigafactory 1 an “electric vehicle battery plant” since it doesn’t only produce batteries for electric vehicles.

Nonetheless, this sounds like a great addition to the world’s battery cell production capacity, which is critical to electric vehicle deployment.

Also, it’s surprising that it is in the US.

When SK sent me the press release saying that the factory is coming to Georgia, I thought it was the country and not the US state.