The two South Korean rivals, SK Innovation and LG Energy Solution, are fighting over a factory that SK has been building in Commerce, Ga., to serve VW and Ford, among others. LG accused SK of stealing trade secrets, and the U.S. International Trade Commission agreed, ruling that SK can make batteries in Georgia for only four years before it must essentially shut down its new plant.
Biden has until April 11 to overturn the ITC ruling.
“Remember that old proverb,” Biden said in February when he signed an executive order to review supply chain issues involving electric car batteries. ” ‘For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.’ And it goes on and on until the kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Even small failures at one point in the supply chain can cause outside impacts further up the chain.”
Many companies are eager to answer Biden’s call, offering myriad solutions, including scooping up rare minerals that lie in softball-size nodules on the ocean floor, changing battery chemistry and assembling and packing battery cells in factories around the United States.
“There is an arms race around the world to build as much lithium capacity as possible to gain dominance in the electric vehicle space,” said Simon Moores, managing director of London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, specializing in lithium-ion batteries and the electric vehicle supply chain.