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South Korean Battery Makers LG Chem And SK Innovation Fight Over EV Recalls In US

South Korean Battery Makers LG Chem And SK Innovation Fight Over EV Recalls In US
A tussle in currently on-going between the South Korean battery makers LG Chem and SK Innovation over the issue of whether the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) should take into consideration a recent recall of electric vehicles in relation to a case of trade secret theft.
Last year, trade complaints against SK Innovation were filed in the United States by LG Chem which is one of the major battery suppliers for electric vehicles of Tesla and General Motors. LG has alleged that SK had stolen its trade secret and therefore has sought a ban on the rival from manufacturing battery cells in the United States as well as prevent the company from importing any of the components that are required to manufacture them.
SK has denied the allegations.
SK asked the ITC to consider that "LG Chem batteries have been involved in a series of fires and explosions, raising substantial public interest concerns", last month.
Recent recalls for EVs with LG Chem batteries have been issued each by both General Motors Co and Hyundai Motor Co, SK said in the request. The company said that the recalls "raise questions of public safety and underscore the critical need for SK batteries in the United States".
The ability of SK to manufacture batteries at its US plant should not be impeded because the fires were "compelling grounds" of not doing so, the company added.
The filing was "untimely and irrelevant" and should not be considered as a factor in the the ITC review "because the electric vehicle recalls cited by SKI do not impact future-year battery models and do not impact EVs with batteries manufactured in LG Chem’s Holland, Michigan plant", LG Chem said in a response filed on Wednesday.
Following five reported fires and two minor injuries, a recall of 68,677 EVs worldwide for high-voltage batteries was made last month by GM. Claiming that possible defects in battery cells increased fire risks nearly 77,000 Kona EVs worldwide were recalled by Hyundai in October.
Because of increasing concerns of thermal issues after receiving five related reports, voluntary recall of its residential energy storage batteries in the United States was made by LG Chem, the company said on Friday. Earlier this week, LG Chem spun off its battery business and renamed it as LG Energy Solution.
"This is a free replacement of some of the batteries in residential energy storage system products that preemptively prioritize customer safety. We are currently working with related companies to determine the cause," LG Energy Solution said in a statement to the media on Friday.
A decision on the case between the two South Korean battery makers is expected to be delivered by the ITC on December 10. A ruling against SK by the ITC could create a problem for Volkswagen and Ford Motor because these companies are all set to manufacture a new range of electric vehicles which are planned to be powered by the batteries and components from SK Innovation.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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