Hyundai is quite disgruntled about having its eligibility for the US federal EV tax credit taken away by the Inflation Reduction Act, but that doesn’t mean it is going off in a corner to sulk. It has just broken ground on a $5 billion electric car factory near Savannah, Georgia. Now comes word that it will partner with SK On and LG Energy Solution to build three new battery factories in the Peach State with a total capacity of 90 GWh annually. In other words, Hyundai is all in on the transition to battery-powered cars in America.
Based on a report by South Korean media outlet Dailian, Reuters says Hyundai and LG Energy Solution are considering building two joint venture battery plants in Georgia near the new factory, each with an annual capacity of 35 GWh. Those factories will give a major boost to Hyundai (and Kia) in their quest to qualify for the new federal electric vehicle tax credit.
That program requires that 40% of the battery materials and 50% of the battery components be sourced within the United States or supplied by countries that have a free trade agreement with the USA. In addition, the cars themselves must be finally assembled in the US. The percentages rise over the next 4 years to 80% by 2027. LG Energy Solution (LGES) is also the principal battery supplier for General Motors.
Hyundai & SK On Plan 3rd Georgia Battery Factory
In a separate press report, Korea Economic Daily says Hyundai and SK On will also build a $2 billion battery cell factory in Georgia near the new Hyundai factory. The start of production is planned for the first quarter of 2026 and will have a capacity of 20 GWh annually.
SK On will produce pouch-type high-nickel batteries for Hyundai’s new factory near Savannah, its existing factory in Montgomery, Alabama, and a Kia factory in West Point, Georgia. SK On already operates two battery manufacturing facilities in Georgia and has secured land for two more factories within the state.
Hyundai and Kia have been using SK On’s pouch cells for most of their EVs, including the IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6. They will power the IONIQ 7 SUV that is expected to be released next year and the Genesis GV70 EV which will be produced in the Alabama plant. The Kia EV6 also uses pouch cell batteries, as will the EV9 SUV that will be introduced in April of 2023.
Politics And EVs
There is a political adjunct to all this EV news. Much of the money made available by the Biden administration to support the growth of the electric car market will be spent in states like Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina that tend to vote Republican. The new jobs at these green factories may function as a political game changer.
“That may be an implicit long-term strategy for the Democrats. With domestic manufacturing likely in traditional Republican districts, the partisan split may soften on renewables,” Timothy Fox, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, tells Bloomberg Green (email). For President Biden, the hope is that the IRA and other infrastructure-related laws he helped shepherd through Congress will form the basis of an industrial policy that revitalizes cities across the country while also fighting climate change.
People tend to vote with their wallets (although, not always). The knock on a green economy has always been that it will destroy jobs in traditional industries like coal, oil, and gas. But the flip side is that it will also create far more clean energy and environmentally responsible jobs. One thing every coal miner is aware of is that installing solar panels doesn’t carry the risk of black lung disease.
With Hyundai pouring billions into the economy of Georgia, that state may be a little less red by the time the next presidential election rolls around.
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