Rapid growth in Europe's development of electric road vehicles has prompted South Korean energy and chemicals company SK Innovation Co. to build a second battery plant in Hungary.
Last year, Seoul-based SK Innovation broke ground on an initial €680m lithium-ion rechargeable EV battery plant on a 430,000m2 site in the north western Hungarian city of Komárom. It plans to start mass battery production at that 7.5 GWh capacity unit in 2020.
Now, the group has announced its local offshoot SK Battery Hungary (SKBH) will begin building the second Li-ion battery plant of 112,000m2 plot at the site later this month.
Construction is set to finish in 2021 and production there should start late in 2021 or early 2022, SK Innovation said. Planned capacity for the second plant is reported also to be 7.5 GWh.
The Korean group wants to ramp up output of batteries and reinforce its foothold in Europe in response to the EV revolution following stricter environmental regulations across the region. Its first operation was to employ initially more than 410 jobs.
One major customer for EV batteries to be produced in Hungary by SK Innovation is the global car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz.
News of SK's second Komárom plant was revealed by the Hungarian government which supported the firm's initial project with a €27.5m grant. At a recent news conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said SK Innovation plans to create 1,000 new jobs, adding the government still has to agree further grant aid for its latest scheme.
Electric vehicle manufacturing has been growing in Hungary where Audi launched production of EV cars at its assembly plant in Győr while China's BYD group is building electric powered buses in Komárom.
SK Innovation is one of three Asian companies, alongside South Korean group Samsung and Japan's GS Yuasa, to have battery manufacturing facilities in the country.
By 2021, SK Innovation also expects to be manufacturing EV batteries at a 7.5 GWh per year capacity factory at Changzhou, China; its 4.75 GWh per year Korean plant in Seosan and a 9.8GWh facility in Georgia, USA.
In the midterm, the group is targeting an overall production output of 60 GWh a year by 2022, its chief executive Kim Jun was quoted as saying this year.