The South Korean lithium-ion battery manufacturer SK Innovation has boosted annual cell production by around 25% over the last month — from 0.8 gigawatt-hours (GWh) to 1 GWh (1,000,000 kWh/kilowatt-hours) — according to recent reports.
According to the company, the new production capacity will be enough to manufacture around 40,000 electric vehicle (EV) batteries a year. This presumes, of course, that the EV batteries in question are destined for EVs without very large battery packs. Things appear to be changing now in that regard, with the Chevy Bolt’s 60 kWh battery-pack clearly being a sign of things to come, but the Bolt’s battery cells are supplied by LG Chem and Tesla’s are supplied by Panasonic.
SK Innovation produces batteries for Kia and will also do so for Mercedes-Benz. None of the vehicles for these brands currently offer long driving range on a single charge (via big batteries). However, that is expected to change.
Push EVs elaborates on the 40,000 EV estimate and how the new production capacity relates to the most likely future: “For this prediction to be accurate, on average, each electric car battery produced has only 25 kWh capacity. To be more accurate, in 2017, not many electric cars will have batteries with a capacity inferior to 40 kWh. If each electric car has in average a 40 kWh battery, the 1 GWh annual production is only enough for 25,000 batteries.”
Continuing: “This recent battery cell production increase might indicate that finally the Kia Soul EV will no longer be production restricted, this is especially important now that this electric car is about to get a range increase. It’s clear that this battery plant in South Korea will not (be) enough in 2017. This is why in April SK Innovation Vice Chairman Chung Cheol-gil said the following: ‘We will generate tangible results this year over our plan to establish EV battery plants in China.'”
That move will follow similar ones made by other South Korean firms such as LG Chem and Samsung SDI.