The desire of American automakers to quickly master the production of electric vehicles forced them to look for suppliers of traction batteries. Since Panasonic mainly cooperates with Tesla and Toyota and the Chinese partners do not attract companies from the USA for political reasons, the latter have focused on South Korean ones. At the same time, the partners do not always agree when it comes to access to trade secrets.
A Japanese source reported the existence of contradictions between Korean battery suppliers and American automakers Nikkei Asian Review. According to the source, the American side often tries to gain access to key technologies used in the production of traction batteries through joint ventures with Korean partners. Korean companies fear that such information from American partners could find its way into the hands of direct competitors. Such fears complicate the interaction of the parties trying to establish traction battery production in the United States.
General Motors has been cooperating with LG Energy Solution in this regard since 2019, and just last year Ford Motor established a joint venture with SK On, a core division of the South Korean SK innovation. The Stellantis concern, which controls the Chrysler and Dodge brands, interacts with LG and Samsung SDI. A total of seven battery manufacturing companies established with the participation of Korean companies are already operating in the United States. Protecting the latter’s technological secrets is part of South Korea’s national policy.
Automakers in such joint ventures get some guarantees of stable supplies and volumes, battery makers get a stable sales market and a source of investment for business expansion. This saves the auto giants the time it takes to develop their own battery technologies, although they are considering vertically integrating their own business to control costs.
If Korean and American companies cannot find a common language in joint initiatives to expand traction battery production, Chinese competitors can increase their share of the world market. Incidentally, Tesla already cooperates with the Chinese giant CATL, but only in China, where it has a large car assembly plant.