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SK Innovation announced its partnership with Ford to build a factory for electric vehicle batteries. The two companies’ joint venture will start churning out batteries around 2025. Photo courtesy of SK Innovation

SK Innovation will join hands with Ford

South Korea’s battery manufacturer SK Innovation said on May 21 that it will team up with U.S. automaker Ford to set up a joint venture and build a battery factory for electric vehicles.

Toward that end, the two outfits signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) ahead of reaching definitive agreements and receiving regulatory approvals.

The joint venture, which will be called BlueOvalSK, will spend 6 trillion won ($5.3 billion) to build the factory, which will churn out traction battery cells and array modules mid-decade.

The announcement is in line with Ford’s plan of investing at least $22 billion through 2025 to deliver all-electric vehicles.

“This MOU is just the start; it’s a key part of our plan to vertically integrate key capabilities that will differentiate Ford far into the future,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said. “We will not cede our future to anyone else.”

SK Innovation chief Kim Jun also expressed hopes on the partnership.

“Our joint venture with Ford will play a pivotal role in fleshing out the electric vehicle value chain in the U.S., a key objective of the current U.S. administration,” he said.

Of note is that Ford’s competitor General Motors has joined hands with SK Innovation’s cross-town rival LG Energy Solution through their joint venture, named Ultium Cells.

Last month, Ultium Cells announced its goal of constructing $2.3 billion battery cell facilities next to GM’s assembly line in Spring Hill, Tennessee, by late 2023.

GM has promised to spend tens of billions of dollars in launching 30 electric vehicle models by 2025, vowing to stop manufacturing gasoline and diesel cars by 2035.

“Top two U.S. carmakers join forces with two foremost battery makers in South Korea, respectively. It is very exciting to see the rivalry,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said.

“The competition between the Ford side and the GM side would become fiercer down the road,” he said.

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