SK Innovation inks supply deal with Daimler
KOICHI KATO, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- South Korean oil and chemical giant SK Innovation has signed a deal to supply Daimler with lithium-ion battery cells.
The German maker of Mercedes-Benz cars will use the batteries in an electric vehicle due out in 2017 and likely other models.
With this order, SK Innovation belatedly muscles in to a heated contest among Japanese and South Korean manufacturers to supply lithium-ion batteries for cars.
SK Innovation provides battery cells to the South Korean automotive group that builds Hyundai and Kia cars. It also supplies Beijing Automobile Works, a Chinese maker of civilian and military vehicles. The company doubled the scale of battery production at a factory in Seosan last July and is expected to consider a further expansion in anticipation of growing orders.
Global electric-vehicle demand now amounts to around 2.2 million units. SK Innovation believes that the market will grow to 6 million or so in 2020 as countries tighten environmental regulations.
Japanese and South Korean battery makers are busy enhancing their capability to supply lithium-ion products for cars. The Japanese players now lead, thanks to dominance of Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor in hybrids and electric vehicles. Panasonic, which supplies batteries to Tesla Motors of the U.S., is the world's largest electric-car battery manufacturer.
LG Chem has come on strong among South Korean battery producers, inking deals with automakers in the U.S., Europe and China. Once the company actually starts supplying batteries, its market share is likely to grow.
South Korea's Samsung SDI, which leads the global market for lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and other civilian applications, is strengthening ties with German automaker BMW.