LG Chem to produce car batteries for Chrysler

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LG Chem to produce car batteries for Chrysler

LG Chem has inked a contract with American carmaker Chrysler to supply battery cells for the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) Pacifica, the company said on Monday.

The deal makes LG Chem the only battery provider in the world to partner with all three North American auto giants - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

The company did not disclose the exact amount and size of the deal. Along with battery cells, the company will also supply various parts, including the battery management system, in the total package.

Pacifica is a minivan by Chrysler, currently operating under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The automaker plans to relaunch an all-new version of the car, including a PHEV lineup, by the end of this year. The next-generation model was revealed in the Detroit Motor Show held last month. The car will be equipped with a 3.6-liter (1-gallon) V6 engine and electric motors powered by a 16-kilowatt battery.

LG Chem will manufacture and supply the batteries directly from its Holland manufacturing facility in Michigan. The increase in orders called for an additional production line in the factory last year, bringing the total to four production lines and roughly 100 more workers on site.

“We now supply parts to all three giant automakers in North America, building a good foundation for global leadership in the [electric car battery] market,” said Lee Ung-bum from LG Chem. “We plan to expand our presence throughout the world.”

Apart from the three companies, LG Chem has been trading with more than 20 other global automakers, including Volkswagen, SAIC Motor and Hyundai Motor.

The total revenue from LG Chem’s battery business last year was 3.15 trillion won ($2.55 billion). Sales of electric car batteries accounted for roughly 700 billion won, and the amount is expected to double this year to about 1.2 trillion won, according to the company.

LG Chem, currently the world’s No. 1 electric car battery provider, plans to stabilize its ground by strengthening research and development and attaining more new orders. The company’s latest goal is to develop a battery that is capable of powering an electric vehicle for 500 kilometers (300 miles) on a single charge, in cooperation with global car manufacturers.

The battery market, especially for electric cars, is expected to increase, as stricter auto regulations worldwide are pushing developers into launching more eco-friendly cars. According to global market intelligence firm B3, the battery market is forecast to grow from $3.26 billion in 2013 to $18.24 billion in 2020.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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