South Korean Power Battery Companies Overweight China, Local SMEs Under Pressure

- Dec 17, 2019-

South Korean power battery company SKInnovation (hereinafter referred to as "SKI") in Changzhou Jintan Development Zone, the first phase of the power battery plant will be officially completed in early December, and mass production of power batteries early next year, the plant is SKI and Nortel Holdings, BAIC Group was established as a joint venture and is the first power battery plant set up by SKI in China.

The SKI plan shows that the designed annual production capacity of the first phase of the project is about 7.5GWh. A person in charge of the SKI who requested anonymity revealed to First Financial reporter that the China-Korea joint venture project in Changzhou reached preliminary agreement in 2013. However, implementation was temporarily suspended, and because the plant's production products and processes are basically the same as those of the Korean plant, the commissioning period of the plant is also expected to be further shortened.

South Korean power batteries are coming

In addition to the SKI Changzhou plant, LG Chemical's second plant in Nanjing's Binjiang Development Zone is under construction, and Samsung SDI's second phase of the expansion of its power battery plant in Xi'an has also been restarted and will be completed and launched around 2020.

Judging from the trends of the global power battery industry, a pattern of hegemony among China, Japan and South Korea has gradually formed. Currently, among the top ten companies in the world for installed power battery installations, three are from South Korea, one from Japan, and the other companies are from China. This also shows the expansion of the Chinese new energy (4.880, 0.01, 0.21%) automotive market. For the market opportunities given by the power battery industry. Previously, the market share of foreign power batteries in China was generally hovering between 1% and 2% because it was not included in the "white list" of subsidies.

However, in May 2018, the China Automobile Association and the China Automotive Power Battery Industry Innovation Alliance jointly announced the "White List of Automotive Power Storage Battery and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Industry (First Batch)". Although the list clearly proposed not to be linked to subsidies, but Korean power battery companies entered the list for the first time, and the industry is still considered to be an opportunity for foreign power battery companies to launch an attack on the Chinese market. An industry source who knows about Korean power battery companies told First Financial News that considering the general development cycle of new cars is about 20 to 30 months, it is a normal choice to start the layout from now on.

Professor Qi Lu of Peking University and chairman of the battery "Davos" academic committee proposed during the 7th battery "Davos" (ABEC2019) forum held recently that lithium iron phosphate batteries on the market are gradually being more safe. The ternary lithium battery is replaced, and in the process of increasing the nickel content in the battery, although the energy density will increase, this will also lead to certain safety risks, so the requirements for systematic production will also increase.

Jin Guangzhou, CEO of market research organization SNEResearch, also pointed out in an interview with CBN reporters that the energy density of NCM811 (high nickel battery) promoted by LG Chem and SKI is 25% to 30% higher than previous products. With this, the cruising range can exceed 500 kilometers, and the advantage of Japanese and Korean power battery companies is that they actively participate in the development of multi-national car company brand electric vehicle platforms, including Hyundai ’s E-GMP platform and Volkswagen ’s MEB platform, etc.

From a cost perspective, according to data from SNEResearch, the current cost of LG Chem and SKI's square-shaped battery is about 900 ~ 1000 yuan, and the price of Panasonic's power battery for Tesla is lower than per kWh. About 800 yuan, even the more competitive Ningde era (87.100, -0.31, -0.35%) of domestic manufacturers' battery production costs are around 1000 ~ 1100 yuan per kilowatt hour, and the purchase price remains at 1500 per kilowatt hour. ~ 1700 yuan.

The Korean Automobile Industry Association Operation Committee Kim Tae-nin told the First Financial Journalist that due to the promotion of policies and the market, during the Guangzhou Auto Show, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and other multinational auto companies are developing new energy vehicles. There is an advantage in the integration of the industrial chain between factories and spare parts factories, which also provides certain market opportunities for foreign power battery companies from the side.

At present, SKI has reached a cooperation intention with domestic power battery company EVE to set up a second power battery production plant in Jiangsu. To this end, the two parties will invest USD 525 million each and start a power battery plant designed to produce 20-25 GWh annually; LG Based on the previous cooperation intention with Geely Automobile, Chemical announced that it will provide power batteries for Tesla Super Factory in Shanghai Lingang (24.040, 0.79, 3.40%) to further expand the Chinese market.

Small and medium-sized power battery companies are under pressure

The Korean power batteries with technological and cost advantages have increased their presence in the Chinese market. Combined with the subsidy's downward trend, some local power battery companies will face more severe challenges, and even some large power battery companies will find it difficult to "stand alone."

Yao Jie, deputy secretary general of the China Automobile Industry Association, said in an interview with China Business News that 40% to 50% of the cost of a pure electric new energy vehicle comes from "three electric systems" such as power batteries. Because multinational companies have certain technological advantages, the most immediate pressure caused by subsiding subsidence will be more obvious for local SMEs.

According to data released by SNEResearch, the global installed capacity of power batteries in September 2019 was 10Gwh, a decrease of 10.5% compared to the same period last year, but LG Chemical, Samsung SDI and SKI all showed year-on-year growth trends, increasing by 69.2%, 37.9% and 33.7 respectively. %. In addition, the installed capacity of power battery companies other than the top ten has dropped by nearly 50%, and the pressure on local small and medium-sized power battery companies has increased significantly.

Yu Qingjiao, the secretary general of Zhongguancun New Battery Technology Innovation Alliance, said that in the past few years, due to the impact of subsidy policies, it was difficult for foreign power battery companies to open up the Chinese market, and domestic policy dividends triggered a large increase in domestic power battery companies. The market once appeared nearly 150 power battery companies.

"We estimate that there are currently about 80 companies remaining in the domestic power battery market, of which only 40 can truly achieve installed capacity, and the industry's TOP10 accounts for nearly 80% of the installed capacity. Nearly 60% of enterprises were eliminated. "Yu Qingjiao said.

However, Yang Hongxin, general manager of Hive Energy, believes that although foreign power battery companies are fierce, Hive is closely related to Great Wall Motor (9.140, -0.18, -1.93%). It has a better understanding of the needs of OEMs, so it can be based on the needs of the entire vehicle. Tailor-made car-grade power battery production workshop.

As two domestic power battery giants, the actions of Ningde Times and BYD (43.150, -0.24, -0.55%) are also accelerating. On the basis of previous cooperation with a number of foreign auto companies, Ningde Times has accelerated its actions on the upstream and downstream levels of power batteries in recent years, and has further expanded overseas markets.

Jin Guangzhou believes that in the future, the manufacturing workshops of power battery companies will continue to shift to the surroundings of OEMs as consumer demand rises and fierce competition among head enterprises, so as to meet the needs of OEMs as soon as possible, and Improve communication with OEMs on the platform. At present, although Korean companies still dominate cost control, Chinese companies ’competition at the NCM811 level and the delay in productization of Korean companies’ NCM811 batteries will also put pressure on Korean companies.