America’s electric car makers just avoided a potentially huge headache. the Financial Times reports that Korean battery makers LG and SK have reached a last-minute settlement in an intellectual property battle that could have wreaked havoc with Ford and VW’s plans to produce electric vehicles in the United States. SK faces an impending ban from the United States International Trade Commission for allegedly stealing LG technology, potentially cutting off the battery supply to automakers at an SK plant in Georgia. This should keep the automakers’ plans on track.
President Biden should have considered overriding the ITC decision if he had wanted to protect the battery supply without regulations in place. Those calling for an end to the conflict had warned that it could cost jobs (mostly the plant’s 2,600) and thwart what is considered the biggest individual investment in Georgia’s history.
Ford and VW would have had time to switch suppliers if LG and SK had not negotiated a truce. However, this is a problem that they clearly would not want to face. Both are in a hurry to ramp up their EV plans, including production scaling up for early models like the Mustang Mach-E and ID.4 as well as electrifying more of their alignments. A rush for new batteries could effectively put those plans on hold for months, not to mention give Tesla another opportunity to move forward.