Blue Oval SK, the battery-making joint venture between SK On and Ford, has sent out letters of intent (LOT) to its suppliers to begin construction of its first factory in the US, TheElec has learned.
The orders will be for the factory in Tennessee, which is planned to have 17 manufacturing lines with an annual production capacity of 43GWh.
It was initially expected to start placing equipment orders early in 2023 but Ford wanted to accelerate the process, sources said.
The factory will manufacture both 300mm and 600mm axes batteries.
Equipment makers are expected to compete fiercely to win orders from Blue Oval SK.
Hana Technology and Mplus will compete for welding and packaging equipment. Mplus had won over its rival for the 200 billion won orders for SK On’s factories at Ivancsa, Hungary and Yancheng, China.
For the mixing equipment to be used in Tennessee, Yunsung F&C will likely win the order. The company had been the exclusive supplier for the kits to SK On in the past. For the electrode process, PNT will likely be the supplier.
For tab notching equipment, those for 300mm axis will likely be supplied by Youil Energy Tech and those for 600mm axis are expected to be supplied by Woowon Technology. Notching for a longer axis battery is a more expensive process so Woowon Technology is expected to win more orders in terms of monetary amount.
Degassing equipment will be provided by NS and logistics and any back-end process equipment will be supplied by SK C&C. Other kits will be given to subcontractors, such as SFA, Kapjin Cowin Tech and Wonik PNE.
Logistics equipment for modules and packs will likely be given to Toptec, which provided the same equipment for SK On’s two battery factories in Georgia in the US.
Ford has sent employees to check the inventories of these suppliers' equipment inventories. SJ On was also checking on its major suppliers to see their material, equipment and component inventories.
Meanwhile, Blue Oval SK is planning to spend a total of US$11.4 billion to manufacture batteries in the US, which will start in 2025.