LG Chem Ltd. breaks ground today for a 1 trillion won ($802 million) lithium-ion polymer (LPI) battery plant in Ochang Techno Park, 59 miles (95 km) south of Seoul, with officials from bothCorp. and Motor Co. Ltd. participating.
Robert Kruse, GM executive director-global vehicle engineering, and Yang Woong-chul,president of research and development, were on hand, as both auto makers have contracts with LG Chem to supply batteries for their electric-vehicle and hybrid programs.
LG Chem will begin shipping LPI batteries for GM’s Chevy Volt program in November 2010, company officials confirm to the media. However, they decline to comment on the size of the planned U.S. battery-pack plant. LG Chem’s Compact Power Inc. subsidiary in Troy, MI, will assemble the batteries into packs for use in the car.
"The government plans to grow the Korean green car industry to be one of the world's Big Four by the mid-2010s,” South Korea’s Minister of Knowledge Economy Lee Youn-ho tells reporters. “I believe LG Chem will be a valuable partner for us. The future of the electric-car battery will also decide the future of the global auto industry.”
The government provides incentive R&D funding to LG Chem. In a regulatory filing, the company says it expects global demand for EV batteries to reach 3.3 million units by 2013 and 4.6 million by 2015.
The company’s revenue from battery sales is projected at more than 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion) by 2015, when the global market is estimated to be more than 10 trillion won ($8 billion), the filing reveal.