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Koreaʼs SK Innovation breaks ground on battery plant

South Koreaʼs SK Innovation began construction last Thursday of a HUF 97.5 billion plant to make lithium batteries for electric vehicles in Komárom (NW Hungary).  Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said the government has awarded a non-repayable grant of HUF 8.17 bln for the project. 

The investment will create 410 jobs in the first phase, Szijjártó was cited as saying by official government website kormany.hu, noting that the automotive industry constitutes the "backbone" of the Hungarian economy, employing 176,000 people and responsible for almost one third of the country’s industrial production.

Kormany.hu noted that SK Innovation is South Korea’s third largest company. With its settlement in the industrial park in Komárom, there are now three major battery manufacturing plants in Hungary. Additionally, Chinaʼs BYD makes electric buses in the city’s industrial park, while nearby Audi has begun production of electric motors for cars.

Yoon Ye-seon, chief of SK Innovationʼs battery division, said mass production at the 430,000 square-meter plant would begin in 2020, when the annual capacity of batteries manufactured will be around 7.5 GWh, able to serve 250,000 cars. Production could be ramped up later based on demand from customers, he added.

The kormany.hu report noted that with the appearance of SK Innovation, three South Korean companies will be making batteries for electric cars in Central and Eastern Europe. LG Chem will open a plant in Poland in 2018, while Samsung SDI recently opened its plant in Göd, north of Budapest, in an investment worth HUF 100 billion, employing 600 people.