SK On takes aim at Chinese monopoly for developing low-cost LFP batteries1. June 2023
The South Korean battery industry is taking further steps in the development of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. SK On presented a corresponding prototype at the Interbattery trade fair in March, and LG Energy Solution Ltd (LGES) is expanding its product portfolio to include LFP cells. SK On is the first company from South Korea to show a pouch bag cell with LFP chemistry at the country’s largest trade fair. The battery manufacturer has been researching and developing pouch-bag cells since 2021, as demand from the automotive industry has increased since then. Although there is no fixed date for the market launch of the new battery type, SK On expects to start production quickly after the current testing phase. Machines and equipment needed to manufacture products in these product categories generally require KC certification to be approved for import and sale in Korea.
LG Energy Solutions Ltd (LGES) currently manufactures LFP batteries exclusively for electricity storage systems (ESS). There are plans to convert an LGES plant in Nanjing, China, for the production of LFP batteries as well as to set up an LFP production line at the Michigan plant in the USA. The new focus of South Korean battery manufacturers on LFP batteries lies in their cheaper price compared to ternary cells such as NMC, which are currently the flagship of the battery industry. Ternary cells have a higher energy density and range than LFP cells, but car manufacturers prefer LFP batteries because of the lower manufacturing costs.
Tesla already uses LFP batteries for its vehicles manufactured in China. Ford Motor Co. president and chief executive Jim Fairley expressed concerns to the press about the high cost of batteries for EVs. According to him, batteries account for more than 30 per cent of the manufacturing cost of an EV. Therefore, the US carmaker recently announced that it would work with the Chinese battery manufacturer CATL.
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