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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Samsung-Bosch Venture to Invest in Car-Battery Plants

SB LiMotive Co., a 50-50 joint venture between South Korea's Samsung SDI Co. and Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH, will invest $500 million by 2013 to add one or two more car-battery production lines in Korea.

Samsung SDI may also expand its production facilities beyond Asia to regions including Europe to meet increasing demand for batteries used for electric automobiles, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

In September 2009, Samsung SDI flagged its intention to invest as much as 500 billion won ($460 million) from 2011 through 2015 in facilities to produce batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Samsung SDI—an affiliate of South Korea's biggest conglomerate Samsung Group—and the world's largest lithium-ion polymer car battery maker by sales, LG Chem Ltd., are both seeking to gain a greater share of the global automotive-battery market.

"Samsung announced earlier this year that it will push the electric car battery business as one of its new growth drivers and we see a lot of growth potential in this market, as demand for electric cars will continue to increase more and more as time goes by," a company spokesman said.

The joint venture currently produces 50,000 units of rechargeable batteries for cars a month but it plans to boost its monthly production capacity to as much as 400,000 units within the next three years, the company spokesman said.

Last week, Samsung SDI and LG Chem announced that they will increase investment in their battery businesses, as the South Korean companies seek to capitalize on fast-growing demand for rechargeable batteries used in consumer electronics and automobiles.

Samsung SDI currently supplies lithium-ion batteries to global car manufacturers, including BMW AG and Chrysler Group LLC of the U.S., while LG Chem has 10 customers for its lithium-ion polymer batteries, including General Motors, Ford Motor, Renault, Hyundai Motor and China's Chana.

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