SK Innovation Ban Leaves Ford and VW Without Battery Supply

SK Innovation is facing an huge setback after issues of stolen trade secrets surfaced in 2019. Issues that caused one of the leading battery suppliers for electric vehicles, LG Chem, to file a federal lawsuit again SK Innovation

In the suit, LG claimed that SK Innovation “accessed trade secrets” by hiring 77 employees from their lithium-ion battery division of LG Chem. A division in which they claim “developed the world’s first commercial pouch-type Li-ion battery for automobiles.” LG Chem said they believed some of those former employees stole trade secrets before joining the SK Innovation team: “These employees include dozens of engineers involved in the research and development, manufacturing and assembly, and quality assurance testing of Li-ion batteries, including the newest and most advanced generation battery technology. The lawsuits allege that a significant number of these workers engaged in the theft of LG Chem’s trade secrets to benefit SK Innovation in the development and manufacturing of pouch-type Li-ion batteries, of which LG Chem is the world’s leading supplier.”

According to LG Chem, they have evidence of the employees working with SK Innovation to obtain the intellectual property. The battery supplier filed a similar lawsuit against SK Innovation in Korea and won in the Supreme Court. Now, they are asking for a ban on Ski Innovation battery cell and module imports in the US which the International Trade Commission has agreed on.

But what does that mean for Ford’s electric F-150 and Volkswagen’s ID.4? Both electric vehicles that were counting on SK Innovation for battery supply. Bloomberg reported the ITC has given Ford and Volkswagen a few years before implementing the ban: “SK Innovation will be able to import components for four years beginning now for domestic battery production for Ford’s EV F-150 launching next year, and for Volkswagen’s American MEB line for two years, to give the automakers time to transition to new domestic suppliers, the International Trade Commission ordered.”

Ford seems happy with the decision from the ITC as changing a battery supplier at such short notice would be a huge setback for the automaker. Ford said about the ruling: “This ITC decision supports our plans to bring the all-electric Ford F-150 to market in mid-2022. Providing this zero-emissions, purpose-built truck for our customers is an important part of our plan to lead the electric vehicle revolution and is a top priority for the company.”

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