Samsung SDI and Rivian have come to a parting of the ways over plans to build a battery factory together. In the world of electric vehicles, batteries are the key to success. No self-respecting automaker can claim to be a leader of the EV revolution unless it has a battery manufacturing partner that is committed to a long term relationship. Tesla linked up with Panasonic to build the Gigafactory in Nevada. GM has climbed into bed with LG Energy Solution. Ford is engaged to SK Innovation.
Rivian, the new kid on the block, was romancing Samsung SDI and had plans to build a battery factory together with the South Korean company. But as often happens with courtships, after the first dare or two, one of the parties starts to come on too strong and ruins the vibe.
According to Korean news source The Elec, that’s precisely what happened between Rivian and Samsung SDI. Rivian demanded access to Samsung’s battery making technology and the right to inspect the interior of its factories. Samsung asked for a commitment from Rivian to purchase a certain amount of batteries.
Largely due to production constraints created by the disruptions in the global supply chain, Rivian declined to commit to buying a stated quantity of batteries. We all know what happens when one party fails to commit. Samsung SDI broke off talks with Rivian and formed a relationship with Stellantis instead. The course of true love never did run smooth, Shakespeare said in A Midnight Summer’s Dream. The bard knew well whereof he spoke.
Rivian is interested in being a co-owner by 2025 of a dedicated battery factory with an annual production capacity of 100 GWh. Who it will get to be its partner in that venture is not clear, now that it has been left at the altar by Samsung SDI. The South Korean firm will continue to sell lithium-ion battery cells to Rivian, but will not be its battery factory partner.
At the present time, battery manufacturers have the upper hand in the business world. There aren’t enough batteries being produced to meet the needs of all the car makers, truck makers, electric airplane companies, and energy storage suppliers who want them. Rivian overplayed its hand, apparently. Who will be its battery factory partner is anyone’s guess at this point.
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