SK Innovation finishes China EV battery plant

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SK Innovation finishes China EV battery plant

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SK Innovation CEO Kim Jun, fifth from right, and officials from SK, BAIC Group and Beijing Electronics Holding take part in a ceremony to mark the opening of the Beijing BESK EV battery plant in Changzhou, China, on Thursday. [SK INNOVATION]

SK Innovation and its Chinese partners completed an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Changzhou, China, on Thursday.

This is the company’s first overseas battery plant to complete construction. It will be operated by Beijing BESK Technology, a joint venture between SK, BAIC Group and Beijing Electronics Holding. SK has a 49 percent stake in the complex. A state-owned automaker, BAIC Group was the second largest in China’s vehicle market by sales volume last year. Beijing Electronics Holding is its parts maker.

“The factory’s completion is meaningful for us as it’s the first step to gaining a foothold in the global battery business,” said SK Innovation CEO Kim Jun. Since his appointment to the top position in December 2017, Kim has been pushing for a portfolio shift to move the company’s focus from its old oil refinery business to batteries and petrochemicals - an initiative he named “Deep Change 2.0.”

“Apart from boosting SK Innovation’s corporate value, we want to create various collaboration opportunities to grow hand in hand with China’s EV and EV battery markets.”

On Thursday, executives from the three companies and regional government officials gathered at the plant to celebrate its completion.

Built on 168,000 square meters (41.5 acres) of land, the facility has an annual production capacity of 7.5 gigawatt hours, which can supply 150,000 EVs with a 50-kilowatt-hour capacity. Mass production will start in early 2020, SK said.

Alongside SK Innovation’s domestic production facilities, its total annual battery capacity is now 12.2 gigawatt hours, enough to supply 250,000 EVs each year. This figure will be expanded once more to 19.7 gigawatt hours this year, SK said, after the completion of another battery factory in Komarom, Hungary, currently under construction.

The new Beijing BESK Technology complex contains SK’s latest mass-production technology for EV batteries and smart factory technologies that were recently applied to the battery maker’s factory in Seosan, South Chungcheong.

SK currently has three more battery plants in the making overseas. Its Komarom factory, due for completion soon, will start mass production in early 2020. The company also has an EV battery plant under construction in Georgia, which will supply Volkswagen in the United States. Earlier this year, it started construction of a second plant in Komarom. The Georgia and second Komarom facilities are scheduled to start mass production in 2022.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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