SK Innovation has announced that it will hire more than 1,000 skilled workers by the end of 2021 in preparation for its first of two battery cell factories in the US. Both plants will be in the state of Georgia and produce cells for more than 300,000 electric vehicles per year.
According to SK Innovation, they have completed the exterior of the first factory and construction of the second factory has started. Both production facilities will be located close together in the City of Commerce in Jackson County, about 110 kilometres northeast of Georgia’s capital Atlanta. The Korean company plans to start series production at one factory in 2022 and the other in 2023. SK Battery America, the US subsidiary of SK Innovation, is responsible for both the construction and subsequent operation of the plants.
SK Innovation has not extrapolated on the planned annual production capacity in the current press release. Assuming that the information that was made public in 2019 is still valid, the first factory will be built in several phases and should have an annual production capacity of 20 GWh by 2025. Depending on the future order volume, this will be increased to up to 50 GWh. In the meantime, the initial annual capacity 10 GWh must be built quickly since SK Innovation is contracted to supply cells to the Volkswagen Group, which in turn will supply the VW ID.4 and later also the ID Buzz at the Chattanooga plant from 2022.
According to an earlier report by Reuters, the second factory will have an annual capacity of 11.7 GWh and cost the group 727 million dollars in investment. The battery-making giant has not yet revealed who will purchase the cells from this US production facility.
According to the company, the first 60 skilled have already been hired. 90 more are planned by the end of this year. Next year SK Innovation intends to employ another 900 workers. SK Innovation plans to create more than 2,600 permanent jobs in the Jackson County area by 2024. The company cited this figure coupled with the announcement that it plans to pump a total of $2.6 billion into its US battery business.
At the same time, things are not going entirely smoothly for SK Innovation in the United States. The company and the similarly South Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem have come to an exchange of blows in court in the USA. Both companies accuse each other of patent infringement. After a preliminary ruling in favour of LG Chem, the legal dispute between the two companies is now continuing in South Korea. Also in this patent dispute, a first judgement of the court in Seoul now turned out in favour of LG Chem. SK Innovation, however, intends to appeal against the decision.
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