Ford F-150 EV and Volkswagen ID.4 production in US is under threatFebruary 12, 2021
The industrial and trade secret theft litigation between LG Chem and SK Innovation was resolved in LG’s favor, which prohibits SK Innovation from selling any battery-related products on the US market. This is a huge blow to the future electric Ford F-150 and Volkswagen ID.4 projects in this market.
In April 2019, LG Chem, a subsidiary that designs and manufactures batteries for LG Chaebol’s electric vehicles, filed a lawsuit against SK Innovation, accusing it of misappropriation of trade secrets, unlawful interference with potential economic benefits, and other illegal activities. According to the lawsuit, SK Innovation hired more than 70 senior LG employees between 2016 and 2019, who stole thousands of classified information documents to hand over to their new company.
Both companies are from South Korea, but the truth is that this legal dispute mostly took place in the United States, where both have headquarters and clients. Consequently, it was in this market that a lawsuit was filed with the ITC (abbreviation for the US International Trade Commission) and the Delaware County court.
The ITC has now ruled in LG’s favor, and the punishment of its competitor has been exemplary, as it has prohibited it from importing, manufacturing and / or selling any EV battery-related products in the market for at least 10 years. In essence, this means the end of the American division of the company and a complete blow to its main customers, who will have to find a new supplier for the electric models that they planned to produce in this market with SK Innovation products.
While ITC’s decision calls for a slight extension of its U.S. customers’ most important projects (the upcoming electric Ford F-150 and Volkswagen ID.4), two models to be assembled in North America in the near future will be able to count on elements from the Korean manufacturer. another 4 and 2 years, respectively. After this time, they will have no choice but to look for new suppliers.
Changing the battery manufacturer is not as easy as changing the batteries in an electronic toy, as the battery pack is one of the basic building blocks of this type of vehicle and its integration – both at the hardware and software levels – is part of the design of the model itself. These packages are designed and manufactured specifically for each model or version.
So it’s not just about finding the cheapest provider: you need to find a specialist who can produce exactly the product you need, with the right characteristics, and so that its price and production capacity are adapted to the needs of the final assembly line of the car. Now, the future of the plant that SK is building in Georgia is in deep doubt as, if completed, will not be operational for many years.
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