The feds finally weighed in on the case of LG Chem (a battery supplier for GM and others) versus SK Innovation (a battery supplier for Ford and others). LG accused the SK of stealing trade secrets and wanted SK’s batteries blocked from the U.S., but Ford needs those batteries to make the electric F-150. Would the Feds screw the Blue Oval? The results are: kinda!
The final verdict is that SK batteries will be banned over here in the States, but there will be exceptions for Ford’s EV F-150 program, as well as VW’s big all-electric product offensive, as Reuters reports:
The [U.S. International Trade Commission] said it was issuing a limited 10-year exclusion order prohibiting imports into the United States of some lithium-ion batteries by SK Innovation, but would permit SK to import components for domestic production of lithium ion batteries and other parts for Ford Motor Co’s EV F-150 program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America’s MEB electric vehicle line for the North America region for two years.
Reuters further explains that Biden could intervene and make things easier on SK:
SK noted there was a 60-day presidential review period in which President Joe Biden could decide to reverse the ruling. Biden has made electric vehicles and reducing vehicle emissions a top priority.
“We have serious concerns about the commercial and operational implications of this decision for the future of our EV-battery facility in Commerce, Georgia,” SK said in a separate statement, adding it believes the “ruling could have a serious adverse impact on President Biden’s policies to combat climate change and expand the electrification of the US auto fleet in coming years.”
This ruling does still hurt Ford and VW, forcing them to overhaul supply lines on incredibly important vehicles in just a few years. A few years is a blink in the world of car development.
It’s also annoying in that it also punishes SK, and also introduces a bump in the road towards more complete electrification of the American auto market.
But I guess it is as kind to those goals as it can be while still being fair, in an economic sense. Would I be happier if the Feds just said, hey, SK definitely stole but EV development is more important and we’re going to let this just slide? Well, the more I think about it, the more it seems like that’s exactly what we got.