SKI's crazy investment in the world looks more like a gamble, and it is more radical than the layout of Samsung SDI and LG chemistry, showing that SKI is eager to break the current power battery competition and enhance its market. Status.
"Later comer" SKI is accelerating its global power battery industry layout, with the goal of ranking third in the global electric vehicle battery market share in 2025. Compared with competitors LG Chem and Samsung SDI, SKI started late in the electric vehicle battery market. However, since 2017, SKI has begun to increase investment in the field of power batteries.
The challenge behind radical goals
The reason why SKI has set a large capacity expansion plan and market target, in addition to financial security, its technical strength also provides a certain degree of confidence.
SKI is mainly used for soft pack batteries. The current material system is mainly NCM 622. The highest energy density of mass-produced single cells is 260Wh/kg (250Wh/kg for LGC and 200Wh/kg for SDI). To further enhance the company's market competitiveness, SKI is introducing batteries with higher energy density.
Foreign media reported that after the production plan was postponed by SKI in 2018, the NCM811 battery will be officially produced in the third quarter of this year.
However, SKI is not satisfied with this. SKI announced that it will develop a new-generation power battery "NCM9/0.5/0.5" with a nickel content of 90% and a cobalt and manganese content of 5% each year. It can travel stably for up to 500 kilometers as long as it is charged. It will start as early as 2021. Commercialization.
In addition, SKI will jointly develop lithium metal batteries with PolyPlus, a lithium battery research and development company in the US. SK Innovation will invest in the development of Poly Plus conductive glass separators. The company is considering an equity investment in Poly Plus in order to obtain authorization for its technology in the future. .
From the technical route point of view, SKI is also more radical, which also shows that SKI wants to further expand its technological gap with Chinese battery companies and Samsung SDI, LG Chem, thereby enhancing its market competitiveness.
However, behind the aggressive capacity expansion and technology upgrades, SKI is also facing tremendous pressure and challenges in the future competition of the power battery market.
On the one hand, the current competition in the power battery market is increasingly fierce, and the market share of SKI in the global market is still relatively small. It is doubtful whether this goal can be achieved.
In addition to SKI, international power battery giants including Ningde Times, BYD, Samsung SDI, LG Chem and Panasonic are currently expanding their production capacity significantly, and have a certain lead in SKI compared to market share, capacity scale and customer base. .
According to the data of the High-tech Research Institute of Lithium-Ion Research Institute (GGII), the top ten global power battery companies produced 86.11GWh in 2018, accounting for 81.24% of the global total. Judging from the competitive landscape of global power battery companies, Japan is mainly Panasonic, South Korea is mainly SDI, LG, and China has CATL, BYD, Guoxuan, and Fueng.
Among them, the top five companies in terms of power battery shipments are Ningde Times, Panasonic, BYD, LG Chem and Samsung SDI, while SKI has not yet entered the top ten. Under this circumstance, SKI wants to squeeze BYD, LG Chem and Samsung SDI into the top three in the world in 2025, which is more difficult and stressful.
On the other hand, the technological radicalization of SKI and the technical disputes with LG Chem have also laid a dark spur on the continued development of SKI's future power battery business.
At present, battery companies are actively developing power batteries with higher energy density, and the high-nickel ternary technology route has become the consensus of the next generation of high-energy batteries. However, a series of new energy vehicle fire accidents have shown that it is more important to ensure the safety of the power battery while increasing the energy density.
The safety and reliability of the NCM811 battery, which is about to be mass-produced by SKI, and the new-generation battery with higher nickel content have yet to be verified.
At the same time, SKI's current legal proceedings against LG Chem for stealing core technologies have also left hidden dangers for SKI's power business development.
In April of this year, LG Chem launched a series of lawsuits against SKI, mainly accusing it of hiring its employees to steal core technologies related to lithium batteries.
It is understood that the current legal proceedings of LG Chem and SKI have entered the second round, SKI will file a lawsuit against LG Chem later this month, suing LG Chem and demanding compensation.
At present, ITC has decided to initiate the investigation but the process has not yet started and no evidence has been issued because LG Chem failed to submit evidence to prove its complaint.
It is worth noting that although there is not enough evidence to prove the innocence of SKI, this technical legal dispute will inevitably have a great negative impact on the development of SKI in the international power battery market. The European and American OEMs may be suspended or even Abandoning the cooperation with SKI, which will have a devastating blow to it.
Overall, SKI is full of confidence in its future power business development, but it also faces enormous pressures and challenges. It remains to be seen whether SKI will be able to achieve its strategic goals later.