Ford had recently made a request to South Korean battery maker SK On that many working at production equipment suppliers as a veil to learn battery production technologies, TheElec has learned.
The US car giant wants its own employees to work with those from SK On when they begin installing and operating equipment at the factories run by the pair’s joint venture Blue Oval SK, sources said.
Ford and SK On are planning to build three factories through their joint company in the US states of Tennessee and Kentucky with US$11.4 billion.
People familiar with the matter said equipment suppliers are showing concern that sensitive information could be leaked to Ford during the process.
Some have claimed that it could mean that the US car giant could attempt to run its own battery factories without SK On.
The South Korean government currently designates battery production technologies related to electric vehicle batteries and high-nickel cathodes as core national technologies.
Earlier this year, For had made inquiries about related laws to South Korea’s trade ministry, sources said.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy currently runs a team called Industrial Technology Security Task Force that oversees technology leaks.
It specifically oversees joint ventures formed by Chinese and South Korean companies and has laws that require NDAs and non-circumvention.
While spending on battery production in the electric vehicle sector is fast rising, there are actually few staffs that can handle the building and operation of production lines.