ATLANTA – With a giant battery factory in northeast Georgia in a trade dispute, South Korean company LG Energy Solution is telling some Georgian officials that it could set up its own factory in the state if rival SK Innovation can’t continue.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Jong Hyun Kim, CEO of LG Energy Solution, wrote a letter to Democratic Senator Rhael Warnock on Wednesday saying LG is “ready to do whatever it takes to help the people and workers of Georgia”.
Kim also wrote that if another company acquires the SK plant, LG could help operate the $ 2.6 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Commerce, where SK plans to hire 2,600 people.
“Several investors and manufacturers … will be interested in the commerce plant because of the increased demand for batteries for electric vehicles,” wrote Kim.
On Thursday, LG announced plans to build at least two new plants and spend more than $ 4.5 billion to make batteries for electric vehicles in the United States. In addition to a plant already operating in Holland, Michigan and being built in Lordstown, Ohio, one is being built could build in Spring Hill, Tennessee. All of these plants work with General Motors.
LG’s overture comes as Republican Governor Brian Kemp reiterated his call to President Joe Biden on Friday to override a federal trade decision that threatens SK’s ability to move forward.
The US International Trade Commission ruled in February that SK stole 22 trade secrets from LG and that SK should be banned from importing, manufacturing or selling batteries in the US for 10 years.
SK has contracts to supply batteries for an electric Ford F-150 and an electric Volkswagen SUV to be manufactured in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The commission said SK could power Ford for four years and Volkswagen for two years. SK can also repair and replace batteries in Kia vehicles that have already been sold.
An SK spokesperson said in a statement emailed, “It is simply impossible for anyone to acquire an electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility and operate it to make batteries acceptable to a large auto company.”
“LG’s monopoly of the US battery supply chain will only set the US back further when it comes to catching up with China,” the spokesman wrote.
Biden has until the end to review or block the verdict and both sides are championing him, part of a chess game that also includes inter-company talks. SK lost the verdict in part because it destroyed evidence. The commission described the move as “exceptional” and concluded that the top SK executives had ordered the demolition.
SK said this week that its directors have denied LG’s demands for compensation. LG said it was “regrettable” that SK was unwilling to negotiate and said LG would accept cash, royalties on future battery sales or a stake in SK’s business.
Georgia gave $ 300 million in free land, cash and other incentives to the SK factory, which is now partially built and set to open in 2022.