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Published on July 16th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Samsung On Verge Of $450 Million Investment Into BYD, Electric Cars, Batteries

July 16th, 2016 by  

Samsung SDI is the producer of BMW’s battery cells (a topic for a coming article). It’s also the brand of the Renault Fluence ZE in Korea. For years, there have been rumors and speculation about Samsung jumping into the electric car game in a serious way.

$450 million may not be on the same level as the billions of dollars Panasonic is putting into its partnership with Tesla, but it’s a sizable step forward. And it’s being made in an interesting way.


BYD is the largest electric car manufacturer in the world. It dominates the Chinese market (our newest Chinese electric car sales report is coming today or tomorrow). Korea Economic Daily reports that Samsung is on the verge of investing 3 billion yuan ($450 million) into BYD, for a 4% share of the company

BYD hasn’t mentioned the dollar (or yuan) amount, but stated in an SEC filing: “Going forward, the parties will jointly seize opportunities in the rapid development of the global electric vehicles industry and promote sustainable development of the parties’ electric vehicles related businesses.”

It seems like a powerful partnership that is likely to lead to faster growth of the electric car, electric bus, and EV battery market. I do wonder, though, exactly how they intend to partner (aside from money). Samsung SDI’s batteries are top-notch stationary storage and EV batteries (I have another story coming soon — maybe today or tomorrow — on this). Though, Samsung stated that it is not interested in being a member of the management process. On the product side, the companies have indicated an intention to work together more on EV components.

Samsung SDI LHP BMW batteries

Samsung SDI batteries and a pretty lady, natch.

“Samsung is pursuing the investment after its affiliate was among foreign battery makers left off a list of suppliers approved by China, where sales of electric vehicles are surging and the government has sped up construction of charging points,” Bloomberg writes. “The talks with BYD also add to the global trend of technology companies and automakers collaborating as car buyers increasingly demand more advanced powertrains and features that improve connectivity and safety.” Korean battery producer LG Chem and GM are, of course, one of the biggest and most notable such partnerships.

The $450 million investment is reportedly part of a broader $2.3 billion share sale BYD is in the midst of. Jose Pontes, cofounder of EV-Volumes and founder of EV-Sales, the writer and analyst who creates our Chinese EV sales reports, has indicated during Cleantech Revolution Tour conferences that he thinks BYD doesn’t yet sell EVs to consumers in Europe and the United States because of limited battery supply and strong demand in China. The $2.3 billion raise is reportedly to more quickly scale up battery production capacity and its electric vehicle production rate.

China Electric Car Sales May 2016China Electric Car Sales May 2016 YTD

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the most notable investor backing BYD. It has had a large stake in the company for several years.

“Shares of Samsung SDI rose as much as 8.3% to a six-week high in Seoul Friday on expectations that the company might be in line to supply its batteries to BYD,” NASDAQ reports.

Photo Credits: RHiNO NEAL | Foter.com | CC BY-NC-ND; Samsung SDI; CleanTechnica

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Julian Cox

    This is basically the path of least resistance for Sansung to access the Chinese domestic market with the full cooperation of the Chinese authorities. Samsung has tech and R&D capabilities that BYD can’t match and BYD has a giant labor force and industrial footprint plus effectively limitless access to government funding and additional labor to back expansion as required.

    Personally I would expect Samsung to be a major contributor to the electrification of transport in addition to Apple and Tesla.

    This is the wave that will sweep away internal combustion, not the efforts of existing ICE car majors to develop EVs. The latter is the epicenter of the expensive problem (how to unburden from obsolete ICE technology while plant and machinery to make engines once classified as vast assets is written off as scrap metal).

    Samsung can jump directly to the solution while ICE car makers are bogged down with restructuring and layoffs.

  • JamesWimberley

    Why does everybody think this is about batteries? BYD started out as a battery maker for phones, and uses its own lithium-iron-phosphate technology. Where Samsung has a much deeper portfolio than BYD is in electronics generally. It is one of the leading designers and suppliers of mobile phone and tablet processor chips, including to Apple. A partnership would be a good way for BYD to catch up with Tesla on car electronics – power management, safety, autonomy, navigation, entertainment.

    • Julian Cox

      Three different things about batteries have to come together for EVs

      1. Chemistry and cell design
      2. Massive manufacturing capacity
      3. Battery management technology

      Between BYD and Samsung, BYD has an abundance of (2) Samsung is the logical source of (1) and (3). Lithium Iron Phosphate is not particularly well suited to EVs in terms of energy density and cycle life but is not too bad for power density which is primarily why BYD has found a market in Hybrids but has so far failed to gain traction in pure EVs. Samsung has battery tech that can fix that.

  • Matt

    Buying 4% of BYD is tiny as a “move”, they are also getting less the 25% of the new stocks from BYD. The only news is that they might do some joint development. Since they both make batteries, BYD more than Samsung, maybe it is a tech swap.

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