The leaders of South Korea’s SK Group and Hyundai Motor Group met Tuesday to discuss collaboration in electric vehicles (EV) and future mobility technology, the companies said.
SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won met with Hyundai Motor Group executive vice chairman Chung Eui-son at SK Innovation’s battery factory in Seosan.
SK showed off its next-generation goods such as high energy density batteries, lithium-metal batteries and high-speed charging technology as well as power semiconductors, ultra-light new materials and Battery as a Service platforms to Chung and Hyundai executives.
It is Chung’s third meeting in a row with South Korea business leaders to discuss collaboration in EV and batteries. He met with Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong in May, touring Samsung SDI’s battery plant in Cheonan. In June, he met LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo at LG Chem’s battery plant in Ochang.
Chey said in a statement that the collaboration between the two groups will give new strength to each of them and the South Korean economy as Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors were building a leading position in electric vehicles and mobility sectors in the global market.
SK Innovation is supplying batteries for Hyundai’s new models based on its E-GMP platform launching next year. Hyundai has mostly used LG Chem batteries before, while sister brand used SK’s.
Hyundai’s EV Kona Electric is selling better than Kia’s Niro EV. Kona Electric was launched in April, 2018 and 96,053 units have been sold so far.
However, as LG Chem has been relegated as the secondary battery supplier for E-GMP, SK Innovation is positioned to take a larger pie of the battery market. Hyundai, meanwhile, is continuing its collaboration with LG Chem __ the two companies are planning to build a joint battery plant in Indonesia. Hyundai is weighing between LG and SK for the best battery deal, people familiar with the matter said.
There is little chance at the current time in which Hyundai will use Samsung SDI’s batter. Samsung makes prismatic batteries while LG and SK produces pouch versions. The two different versions of batteries have different electrical characteristics and energy densities. Hyundai will have to redesign the modules and packs its E-GMP can support to use Samsung’s. Volkswagen’s MEB (Modular Electric Drive) platform, on the other hand, can use any type of batteries __ Hyundai would need a similar design. Tesla has also been only using circular batteries in the past but has recently decided to also use CATL’s prismatic batteries.
And the most important buying point for automobile manufacturers remain price. “The reason why Hyundai met with Samsung, LG and SK in turn is more about laying a foundation for price negotiations,” one of the people said. “Automobile companies in Europe and the US are increasing collaborations with Chinese battery makers, while the Chinese government is promoting its local battery industry. Hyundai is trying to secure a competitive edge through its multiple meetings with different battery vendors.”
General Motors, which is planning to form a joint venture with LG Chem, last month announced that it will also strengthen collaboration with CATL. Volkswagen recently secured a stake in Chinese battery maker Guoxuan, while Daimler did the same with Farasis. Toyota is also collaborating closely with CATL and BYD.