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LG says it could build plant to replace SK Innovation’s

By Andy Peters, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren for City News And Talk #business-all


 

Regulators last month ruled Commerce facility will have to close.

South Korean company LG Energy Solution raised the stakes in its fight with SK Innovation, saying it could build its own factory in Georgia to make batteries for electric vehicles.

SK is building a plant in Commerce, but the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled last month that technology the company plans to use there was stolen from LG. Because of that, the commission said, SK can make batteries in Georgia for a limited time before it must halt production.

Since the ruling, LG has pressured SK to reach a financial settlement.

Now LG has suggested it can open a plant in Georgia to make the electric vehicle batteries.

LG “is prepared to do whatever we can to help the people and workers of Georgia,” CEO Jong Hyun Kim said in a March 10 letter to U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Kim also said in the letter that, if an outside investor acquires the SK plant, LG could partner with it to run the plant.

“Multiple investors and manufacturers … will be interested in the Commerce plant due to increased demand for electric vehicle batteries,” Kim said.

An SK spokesperson said in an emailed statement that “it is simply impossible for someone to acquire an EV battery manufacturing facility and run it to produce batteries acceptable to a major auto company.”

“LG’s monopolization of the U.S. battery supply chain will only set the U.S. further back in its effort to catch up with China,” the spokesperson said.

In a press release issued Friday, LG said it will select two locations in the U.S. before June as finalists for a new $4.5 billion plant. LG did not specify which locations are under consideration.

The new plant would be in addition to a previously announced expansion in Michigan and a partnership with GM that may be located in Tennessee.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Gov. Brian Kemp and SK Innovation have urged the Biden administration to overturn the U.S. International Trade Commission’s ruling that it must wind down operations, saying it threatens Georgia’s economy and Biden’s climate-change priorities. LG has lobbied the administration to uphold the ruling.