New Energy Vehicles

20 Nov 2020

Chinese and Japanese EV Battery Makers Promoting Plants in Europe

20 Nov 2020  by Michael Herh   

Panasonic of Japan and SVOLT of China are moving to establish electric vehicle (EV) battery plants in Europe to challenge Korean battery makers, which are currently dominating the European market. Panasonic is the world's third-largest battery maker, while SVOLT is the third-largest battery maker in China.

Ji Dong-seop (third from right in the second row), CEO of SK Innovation’s battery business, poses for a commemorative photo with officials of SK Battery Hungary during a visit to the company’s factory in February 2020.

Panasonic is planning to establish an EV battery plant in Norway in partnership with oil and gas company Equinor and aluminum company Norsk Hydro of Norway, major foreign media outlets said on Nov. 19.

The three companies are taking aim at the European EV market based on Panasonic's battery technology. They will conduct a six-month feasibility study before carrying out the project.

SVOLT also recently announced its plan to invest about 2 billion euros in Germany to build a 24GWh battery plant.

Earlier in July, CATL formed an alliance with Honda by selling a 1 percent stake to the Japanese carmaker. It announced in August that it would strengthen a partnership with Germany's Daimler Group.

Korean, Japanese and Chinese battery makers are expected to square off in the European market, a mecca for carmakers. Currently, LG Chem has a battery plant in Poland, while Samsung SDI and SK Innovation each have a plant in Hungary. China's CATL, the world’s second largest EV battery maker after LG Chem, is also planning to build a battery plant in Germany to expand its share of the European market.

In the European market, Korean battery makers have shown outstanding performance. While Panasonic, which had been the world's No. 1 player until 2017, did not pay much attention to the European market, LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation established plants in Europe and increased their market shares through aggressive investments.

Although shares of the three Korean battery makers in the European EV battery market have not been accurately counted, they are believed to have a significantly wide gap with Chinese and Japanese battery makers. Some experts say that LG Chem alone accounts for about 70 percent of the market.

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