Hyundai, GM partner with Korean battery makers to build US plants

Hyundai Motor Group and General Motors announced separately Tuesday plans to build electric vehicle battery plants in the U.S. in partnership with South Korean battery manufacturing firms.

Hyundai will set up a $5 billion battery cell production joint venture in the U.S. with SK On, the company that is also working with Ford to set up battery plants. GM will partner with Samsung SDI to jointly invest $3 billion in an EV battery plant.

The partnerships come as EV battery competition heats up in the U.S., with automakers foreign and domestic racing to build battery supply chains nationally in order to be eligible for the Biden administration’s EV tax credit. New battery sourcing rules went into effect in April that restrict the full $7,500 tax credit to vehicles with battery materials procured and processed in the U.S. or by trade agreement partners.

The announcements also come as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol travels to Washington to meet with President Joe Biden. South Korean automakers have pushed back against the administration’s new rules prohibiting vehicles built outside the U.S. from receiving the credit.

Hyundai’s partnership with SK On follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in November 2022. Both companies will hold a 50% stake in the $5 billion investment, according to Hyundai.

The Hyundai-SK JV will establish a battery cell plant in Bartow County, Georgia, which is close to Hyundai’s U.S. production facilities in Alabama and Georgia. Hyundai says the plant will start manufacturing battery cells in the second half of 2025 with annual production capacity of 35 GWh, which should support the production of 300,000 EVs.

Hyundai Mobis, the automaker’s parts and services arm, will assemble battery packs with cells from the plant and supply them to the automaker for use in upcoming Hyundai, Kia and Genesis EV models. SK On has previously worked with Hyundai to build batteries for models such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and Genesis GV60.

The GM-Samsung factory is expected to start production in 2026, and will have more than 30 GWh of capacity. This should bring GM’s total U.S. battery cell capacity to about 160 GWh. The automaker is building out four other battery factories in the U.S. It’s not yet clear where this new plant will be built.

GM said the production lines at its new plant will build “nickel-rich prismatic and cylindrical cells.” Prismatic and cylindrical cells are two of the three types of EV battery cells. GM’s Ultium battery platform currently uses the third style — pouch — for most of its vehicles.