SK Innovation has opened its battery cell factory in China, the construction of which the South Korean manufacturer started in August 2018. In addition to the China Model 3 with LG Chem cells, a car with cells from SK Innovation has now also landed on the Chinese government’s coveted subsidy list.
SK Innovation has a 49 per cent stake in the plant, the remaining share belongs to the Beijing Automotive Group and Beijing Electronics. The plant has an annual capacity of 7.5 GWh and is scheduled to start production at the beginning of 2020. The construction period was just under 16 months.
The plant in Changzhou is SK Innovation’s first electric car battery plant that is not located in South Korea. With the new factory, the company can more than double its own production capacity, which now stands at 12.2 GWh – the main plant in Seosan will reach 4.7 GWh. Soon it will increase even further, as the plant still under construction in Hungary will provide a further 7.5 GWh of annual capacity. With the 19.7 GWh, SK Innovation would almost reach the capacity of 20 GWh targeted for 2022.
Not only with the battery cell factory in Changzhou the market prospects for SK Innovation in China are currently improving: With the PHEV version of the Chinese Mercedes E-Class, a vehicle with battery cells from the Korean manufacturer (still from Korean production, since Changzhou is not producing yet) has now been added to the list of eligible vehicles in China. Since the Tesla Model 3 from the Gigafactory 3 near Shanghai is also on the subsidy list (very likely with battery cells from LG Chem), there are increasing signs that the Chinese government is easing the ban on foreign battery cells. In 2016, the Chinese government decided to promote only electric cars with batteries from domestic manufacturers.