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LG Chem looks to lift car battery sales 70%

SEOUL -- South Korea's LG Chem expects its car battery business to reap 1.2 trillion won ($1 billion) in sales in 2016, a roughly 70% jump driven by expanded supplies to U.S., European and Chinese carmakers.

     Sales will likely surpass the break-even point this year, allowing the segment to post profit for a full fiscal year by 2017, the company said Monday.

     "We've secured the highest level of quality in the world due to such factors as [battery] configurations that boost energy density and proprietary components that ensure safety," said an LG Chem executive.

     The company says it supplies batteries on contract to over 20 carmakers, including General Motors of the U.S. and France's Renault, with each new model rollout adding to supply volume. In February, LG Chem shook hands on a deal with Chrysler, a unit of the Italian-American car company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

     Japanese battery makers have taken the lead in supplying local automakers, many of whom are pioneers in the eco-car segment. Panasonic had the biggest global share in 2014 in terms of volume while LG Chem took third place.

     However, the rankings may be shuffled by the growth of the electric-vehicle market. LG Chem has plants in South Korea, the U.S. and China. With the electric- and hybrid-vehicle markets set to expand, the company is also looking at building new plants in Europe and elsewhere around the world, said LG Chem CEO Park Jin-soo.

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