EV Battery Production in Georgia Charges Ahead Thanks To Settlement

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

Scaling production of EVs in the U.S. will require a ramp-up in domestic battery production. Now there’s good news on that front. A battery factory in Georgia can move forward after LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation (South Korean companies), two of the world’s biggest electric vehicle battery manufacturers, settled a dispute. SK will pay LG $1.8 billion in cash and royalties because the U.S. International Trade Commission ruling that barred SK from making batteries in the U.S. because they stole LG’s trade secrets. “This settlement agreement is a win for American workers and the American auto industry,” President Biden said in a statement.

Why This Matters: The dispute threatened U.S. production of EVs. SK has contracts to produce batteries for electric Ford F-150 pickup trucks and Volkswagen SUVs but without the Georgia plant they would have been “scrambling for batteries,” the AP reported. The Biden administration’s infrastructure plan calls for $174 billion in electric vehicle incentives, including developing a U.S.-based supply chain. Ford Motors hailed the settlement, saying it “allows us to focus on delivering a range of Ford world-class battery electric vehicles for our retail and fleet customers, while also supporting American workers, the economy and our shared goal of protecting the planet.″

The Road Ahead for Electric Cars

Right now, only about 2 percent of new cars in the U.S. are electric. But by the end of the decade, Volkswagen projects half of its sales in the States will be eclectic cars. Getting the more than 270 million U.S. cars running on batteries instead of fossil fuels would make a significant dent in the country’s emissions — transportation is the largest source of climate-damaging emissions, with cars and trucks producing 60% of them.

The Biden administration is kicking off the transition with the federal fleet: President Biden has pledged to replace the 650,000 cars with “clean electric vehicles made right here in America made by American workers,” as Biden said at a press conference earlier this year. The infrastructure proposal also calls for swapping out diesel school buses for battery-powered ones.

As Vox writes, “if the US can pull off electrification of its greatest contributor to climate change, it bodes well for decarbonizing the rest of the economy.”  The support for EVs is strong: half of Americans would support their state requiring all cars sold by 2035 to be zero-emission, according to a 2020 YouGov poll. Beyond the price point, people’s biggest concerns revolve around the time, cost, and ease of charging.

Even Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp has been heavily in favor of keeping SK’s planned operations in his state. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote, “Georgia handed over a huge package of economic incentives to SK to win the project. The state provided grants, free land and other incentives that totaled about $300 million so long as the projects lived up to economic development promises.”

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