Engineers of electric truck startup Rivian has visited South Korea to meet with their partners based in the country, TheElec has learned on Thursday.
They aren’t planning to meet those at LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI, the three South Korean battery makers.
Rather, they are visiting the country to meet with local material, component and equipment companies in preparation of its own battery cell production.
Around ten engineers for the startup are visiting for the meetings. Included are Johnson Mark, manufacturing engineer at Rivian, and Victor Prajapati, director of cell engineering at Rivian.
Rivian was founded in 2009 and received investments of around US$8 billion from Amazon, Ford and other companies.
It is planning to start selling its first electric truck R1T and R1S SUV. Samsung SDI is supplying the cylinder batteries for the two vehicles.
Rivian is planning to construct a 10GWh per year battery plant by 2025. Its engineers’ recent visit is in line with this plan.
Multiple electric vehicle startups have stated they plan to manufacture their own battery cells __ but Rivian is the first to visit South Korea to meet material, component and equipment companies needed for this.
The US government is strongly pushing to foster its battery industry, people familiar with the matter said.
Rivian has a very aggressive schedule to begin manufacturing its own batteries and could catch up to South Korean battery makers in production capacity quickly, they said.
LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation are operating or building battery factories in the US. Samsung SDI is also planning to expand into the US market and build cell production facilities there.
Besides the US, European companies are also expected to increase their ties with South Korean battery material, component and equipment companies.
The people said a lot of South Korean companies have expertise in mass production of batteries over some of their Chinese and Japanese rivals.
These companies are also likely to expand into the US and Europe themselves to reduce reliance on South Korean battery makers for their sales.