Ford rejects ITC’s criticism of SK Innovation battery deals

WASHINGTON – Ford on Friday denied criticism by the US International Trade Commission of its decision to enter into battery deals with SK Innovation.

The ITC said the second-largest US automaker had signed new contracts even after evidence surfaced that the South Korean electric vehicle (EV) battery maker misappropriated trade secrets of city rival LG Chem.

“Contrary to what the ITC believed, Ford was required to have three additional battery programs tied to SK Innovation before wrongdoing emerged,” said Ford, adding that “key factors” would have emerged if the ITC “had a public interest hearing would have carried out “.

The ITC did not respond immediately.

The ITC sided with LG Chem in its trade secret claims last month and issued a limited 10-year exclusion regulation banning the import of lithium-ion batteries from SK Innovation (SK).

It allowed SK to import components for the domestic production of batteries for the Ford EV F-150 program for four years and for Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicle line for North America for two years.

SK has warned that the ITC decision would force it to halt construction of a $ 2.6 billion battery plant in Georgia unless it is overturned by President Joe Biden.

In an edited statement released on Thursday, the ITC asked why Ford had entered into battery deals with SK Innovation after SK’s misconduct came to light in the investigation.

Ford was said to be looking to do business with SK even after an employee of the company was dismissed in November 2019 in the Commission’s investigation and the automaker only had a contract with SK to supply batteries for the EV F-150 .

“There is no explanation on file as to why Ford would ignore or apologize for SK’s dire wrongdoing,” the ITC said.

“The fault here lies with both SK and those like Ford, who have made a conscious decision to continue to cultivate potential business relationships based on the misappropriation of SK’s trade secret.”

Ford said Friday it “will not condone the acts SK Innovation is accused of – specifically, false expropriation of trade secrets and the destruction of evidence in the course of an investigation.”

LG Chem found that the ITC ruling found SK improperly expropriated LG trade secrets worth billions of dollars spanning the entire EV battery business.

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