By Lee Dong-in and Minu Kim
SK Innovation, South Korea`s leading energy-chemical company accelerating its inroads into the world’s biggest electric vehicle market ahead of the sunset in the government EV subsidies, pledged it will invest 400 billion won ($354 million) to build a separator plant for electric vehicle (EV) batteries in China.
The company said the new factory will sit on a 145,000 square meter site in Changzhou City in Jiangsu Province in eastern China, where it has already begun construction of its first battery cell factory with annual capacity of 7.5 GWh.
The facility will consist of four lithium-ion battery separator (LIBS) lines and three ceramic coated separator (CCS) lines to roll out the key components of high capacity EV power packs that drive electric cars.
The LIBS works to maintain stability between anode and cathode and increase the battery output and the Korean company developed the component for the third time in the world in 2004.
The initial capacity of the new facility is 340 million square meters per year for LiBS and 130 million square meters for CCS. The completion of the plant will bring SK Innovation’s total separator capacity to 850 million square meters per year, further narrowing its gap with a second place rival in the wet lithium ion separator market.
The new factory will start commercial production in the third quarter of 2020. SK Innovation put off building manufacturing base in China amid preferential subsidy program that discriminated foreign players -mostly South Korean makers. Beijing plans to end the subsidy program in 2020.
On Monday, shares of SK Innovation fell 2.9 percent to close at 217,500 won in Seoul trading.