LG Chem said Wednesday that it has completed what it described as the world`s largest battery plant for electric cars, with an annual production capacity of around 100,000 units.
The plant began producing batteries for General Motors' electric vehicle Chevrolet Volt in September last year.
With two additional plants being built in Ochang, Korea and another in Michigan, the U.S., LG Chem will become capable of producing enough batteries to supply up to 350,000 cars a year starting in 2013.
By developing its Ochang plant into a global key battery factory for electric vehicles, LG Chem aims to increase its global market share in the electric car battery sector to more than 25 percent to post 4 trillion won (3.7 billion U.S. dollars) in sales by 2015.
LG Chem began leading the world electric car battery market in January 2009, when it started to develop lithium-ion batteries. Nickel-hydride batteries led by Japanese companies had been the main power source for electric cars until then.
LG Chem’s lithium-ion batteries are smaller and lighter than Japan`s nickel-hydride batteries and have 50 percent more output and energy.
LG Chem has secured 10 global and domestic automakers as clients, including GM, Hyundai Motor, Volvo, Ford and Renault. It is also expecting demand from two to three Japanese carmakers.
LG Chem Vice Chairman Kim Bahn-suk said, "Two of our main client companies asked us to supply 100 percent and 50 percent more batteries than they initially demanded. We initially didn`t expect annual battery production capacity of up to 100,000 cars, and have built more plants to meet rising demand."
Attending the ceremony were President Lee Myung-bak, LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo, and Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Suk-soo and Vice President Oh Seung-kook. GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky, Renault Vice President Alain Vignaud, Renault Samsung CEO Jean-Marie Hurtiger and Ford Executive Director Burt Jordan were among the executives from major foreign automakers at the ceremony.
In his congratulatory speech for the launch of LG Chem’s plant, President Lee said, "The era of electric cars will come faster than we initially expected. An engine era will come to an end if batteries become lighter. Korean companies started a bit late but have become pioneers with a spirit of challenge and investment."
GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said, "Cooperation between General Motors and LG Chem will not remain with Volt. We will use LG Chem’s batteries in the Chevrolet Cruze (GM Daewoo Lacetti Premier) and test how well they sell in Korea."