WASHINGON/SEOUL — South Korean battery makers LG Chem and SK Innovation are sparring over whether the U.S. International Trade Commission should consider recent EV recalls in a trade secrets case.
LG Chem, an EV battery supplier for Tesla and General Motors, filed its trade complaints against SK Innovation last year in the U.S. Alleging trade secret theft, LG seeks to block SK from producing battery cells in the U.S. and from importing the components necessary to make them.
SK has denied wrongdoing.
Last month, SK asked the ITC to consider that “LG Chem batteries have been involved in a series of fires and explosions, raising substantial public interest concerns.”
In the request, SK said General Motors and Hyundai Motor Co. had each issued recent recalls for EVs with LG Chem batteries. The recalls “raise questions of public safety and underscore the critical need for SK batteries in the United States,” the company said.
It added the fires are “compelling grounds” not to impede SK’s ability to manufacture batteries at its U.S. plant. LG Chem in a response filed Wednesday said the filing was “untimely and irrelevant” and should not factor in the ITC review “because the electric vehicle recalls cited by SKI do not impact future-year battery models and do not impact EVs with batteries manufactured in LG Chem’s Holland, Mich., plant.”
GM said last month it was recalling 68,677 EVs worldwide for high-voltage batteries after five reported fires and two minor injuries. In October, Hyundai recalled nearly 77,000 Kona EVs worldwide, saying possible defects in battery cells increased fire risks.
The ITC is expected to have a decision on the matter next week. An adverse ruling could potentially cause setbacks for Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor Co. as they move to build new electric vehicles using SK Innovation’s batteries and components. SK is building a $2.6 billion battery plant in Georgia to supply Ford and VW.