Hyundai meets with SK over battery partnership

In this photo taken on July 7, 2020 and provided by Hyundai Motor Group, the group’s Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun (R) shakes hands with SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won at SK Innovation’s car battery plant in Seosan, 150 kilometers south of Seoul.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun has completed his “given mission” of expanding partnerships with local electric vehicle (EV) battery makers in preparation for establishing a stable supply chain ahead of the massive influx of EVs, The Korea Herald reports.

On Tuesday, the chief of the nation’s largest carmaker had a meeting with SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won at the latter’s battery-making arm SK Innovation’s plant in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province.

This was Chung’s third meeting with chiefs of local battery makers, following meetings with Samsung Group leader Lee Jae-yong on May 13 and LG leader Koo Kwang-mo on June 22. LG, Samsung and SK are all top-10 companies in the EV battery market.

According to Hyundai Motor and SK, the two leaders discussed cooperation in the EV business and shared their thoughts on future battery technology.

“They discussed cooperation on next-generation EV battery technologies, power management chips and the battery-as-a-service platform,” they said in a shared statement.

Hyundai Motor chief Chung said the meeting was “meaningful” as the heads of the two conglomerates shared their thoughts on future battery technology.

“The meeting was meaningful as we shared our thoughts on the direction of new battery technologies,” Chung said. “Hyundai Motor Group will keep expanding partnerships with companies that have state-of-the-art technologies.”

SK Chairman Chey said the partnership will be helpful for not only SK and Hyundai but also the national economy.

“The partnership will help contribute to the development of not only the two groups but also the Korean economy as Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors are increasing their presence in the future mobility industry,” Chey said. “By pooling our wisdom, I expect we can preemptively respond to upcoming changes in the post-COVID-19 era and further generate both social and economic value.”

The series of meetings between Hyundai Motor and battery producers came at a time when EVs are increasingly improving shares in the automotive market and moreover expected to replace traditional gas-powered vehicles in the near future.

For Hyundai Motor, maintaining solid relations with LG, Samsung and SK has become urgent as Tesla is widening its lead on other EV makers.

SK Innovation is one of the major battery cell suppliers of Hyundai as the battery maker has been chosen as the first to supply its EV battery cells to Hyundai’s upcoming EVs that will be produced based on its EV-only platform called Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).

During their visit to the SK Innovation plant, Hyundai Motor chief and other top executives toured battery cell manufacturing lines. Established in 2012, the Seosan plant is capable of manufacturing 4.7 gigawatt-hours of batteries a year. Hyundai Motor Group is using SK Innovation’s batteries for Kia Motors’ plug-in hybrid vehicles the Niro and the Soul.

After releasing its first EV in 2011, Hyundai Motor Group has positioned itself as one of the top-tier EV makers, selling more than 280,000 EVs. According to market tracker EV Sales, Hyundai and Kia sold 24,116 EVs in the first quarter, placing fourth behind Tesla with 88,400, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with 39,355 and Volkswagen with 33,846.

To take the leadership in the EV market, Hyundai has been betting big on E-GMP, as the platform is designed for EVs only and uses 800 volts, which is twice the voltage of most EVs on the road today. Hyundai previously announced it will release 23 EV models and sell 1 million EVs by 2025.

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