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SES expands into South Korea

SES AI, a US developer and manufacturer of high performance, lithium metal batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and other applications, announced it had established a subsidiary company in South Korea “to develop local market opportunities”.

SES, based in Boston, said it had just incorporated SES Korea, its second major operation outside the US after SES Shanghai Giga.

The company said it planned to build a pre-production facility in South Korea this year and to employ 50 staff locally by the end of 2022.

SES said it was looking to strengthen its ties with important strategic partners such as Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, LG Corporation and other major industrial conglomerates in the country.

The company said in a statement: “South Korea has a strong battery supply chain and a deep talent pool. SES Korea and SES Shanghai Giga will focus on different aspects of supply chain development and different A-sample joint development with auto OEMs.”

SES CEO Qichao Hu said in a statement: “It’s all about speed and winning the race. Momentum is building as additional auto OEMs want to establish arrangements for the joint development of A-sample batteries with SES. Having SES Boston, Shanghai Giga and now SES Korea gives us access to deep talent pools and the highly efficient ecosystems in South Korea and China – two industry powerhouses, as well as unparalleled chemistry and software capabilities in the US.

“We also believe the cash raised by our recent business combination with Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corporation and our listing on the New York Stock Exchange will help us accelerate these developments.”

SES said it had automotive A-sample joint development agreements with General Motors, Hyundai and Honda Motors and was backed by strategic investors including GM, Hyundai, Honda, Geely Auto, SAIC Motor, SK, Koch, Applied Materials, Tianqi Lithium HK, Vertex Ventures Holdings, Temasek Holdings and affiliates of LG and Foxconn Technology Group.

Last year the company unveiled its Apollo next generation, 107 amp/hour, automotive lithium metal battery, energy of 417 watt hour per kilogramme, about 40% higher than the average lithium-ion battery currently used in EVs.

Lithium metal batteries use metal instead of graphite which helps increase energy density by around 30% compared with lithium ion batteries. They generate more heat, however, increasing the fire risk.

SES said it has reduced the risk of fire by applying enhanced coatings and its unique electrolyte.

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