Hyundai Motor signed a joint development agreement (JDA) and an equity investment contract with SES in June. Hyundai Motor will become the fifth-largest shareholder after the Singaporean Sovereign Wealth Fund, founders Qichao Hu, SK Inc. and GM.
SES is a startup that separated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2012. The company is considered to have the most advanced technology in developing lithium metal batteries (LMBs), which have 10 times more energy density than lithium ion batteries (LIBs). It is planning to build a battery cell plant in Boston with GM to commercialize LMBs by 2025. SES is seeking to have an IPO within this year through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The investment is aimed at securing technology for next-generation batteries under its strategy to internalize batteries, analysts say. In early 2021, Hyundai Motor significantly expanded its research team on the development of next-generation batteries at its R&D headquarters.
Another effect of the investment in SES is that Hyundai Motor has secured a bridgehead to the UAM market, which is expected to hit 360 trillion won in 2030. The automaker established a company dubbed Genesis Air Mobility in the United States as the commercialization of UAM is expected to start in the United States. "Hyundai Motor will focus on developing hydrogen fuel cell-based UAM for logistics and transportation in Korea, while in the United States, it aims to release UAM systems using electric batteries in 2024.”
"Having battery technology is one thing and mass-producing batteries is another," a battery company official said. "Even if automakers develop battery technology on their own, it will be a big challenge for them to mass-produce batteries at desired prices."