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Continental and SK Innovation move forward on automotive Li-ion battery joint venture

Moving forward on their Heads of Agreement signed earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show (earlier post) Korea-based SK Innovation and the international automotive supplier Continental signed an agreement to found a jointly managed company to develop, to produce and to market automotive Li-ion battery systems.

SK Innovation is providing its know-how in the development of battery cells as well as separators. Continental has years of experience in developing and producing battery electronics and entire battery systems as well as integrating them into the vehicle; Continental supplied the first mass-produced lithium-ion batteries in 2007.

SK Innovation began developing batteries for portable IT devices since 1996, launched lithium-ion battery development for hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) applications in 2005, and started lithium-ion battery production in 2006. In 2009, SK Innovation was awarded the MFTBC (Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Company) light duty truck project (LIFT project), and has been awarded four commercial xEV projects since.

SK Innovation has an annual capacity of 800 MWh—equivalent to 40,000 units of full EVs—at its plant in Seosan, Korea. SK Innovation also develops batteries for grid energy systems.

The cooperation of the two companies’ capabilities and technologies is a remarkable starting point to open a new horizon for future transport. The combination of SK’s battery cell know how and Continental’s battery system know how will yield the best solution for the operation of electric car batteries and therefore suggests the most evolved model to the global automobile market.

—Chey Jae-won, executive vice chairman of SK Group

SK Innovation will hold a 51% stake in the new company, Continental 49%. The business strategies of SK Innovation and of Continental will remain unaffected by the joint management of this new company. Both companies will continue to supply their customers in the automotive industry with their entire existing product range.

The venture, which will be managed operationally from Berlin, is slated to start business in the fourth quarter of this year. Its research and development activities will be carried out in Daejon, South Korea, in addition to Berlin. Production, marketing and sales will be set up locally in the target markets worldwide.

Initially, there will be about 200 employees worldwide, with both partner companies providing equal portions of the workforce.


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