Ford Motor Co's battery joint venture partner, Korea's SK Innovation, expects the U.S. vehicle industry to face a battery supply shortage until 2025 because of the long lead times to build production facilities, top SK executives told Reuters. SK Innovation's battery unit, SK On, is also considering developing lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP), which have an advantage in cost and thermal stability despite a lower driving range, Kim Jun, chief executive of SK Innovation and Jee Dong-seob, CEO of SK On, said.
"The current U.S. battery capacity is far short of meeting demand. Building a factory to meet demand requires a lead time of 30 months, and I see a battery shortage continuing at least until 2025," Kim said, referring to the time needed to supply battery cells domestically, including factory site selection, construction and product testing.
In contrast, China is expected to have a battery oversupply, and Europe's supply will be in line with demand, he said. Ford and SK On plan to invest $4.45 billion each to build three new factories in the United States, with production slated to begin in 2025. With the deal for the plants, which will be the biggest in the United States, SK said it has an industry-leading order backlog of 1,600 gigawatt hours, enough for 27 million vehicles. SK Innovation spun off its battery business into its wholly-owned unit, SK On, as of Oct. 1.