* LG Chem in talks to expand cooperation with Tesla, other
* LG Chem considering new battery factory in Europe
* LG Chem considering petrochemicals production facility in
SEOUL, Oct 16 (Reuters) - LG Chem, the world's
top electric vehicle (EV) battery maker, is in talks with a
"couple" of automakers to create joint ventures to produce
automotive batteries, Chief Executive Officer Hak Cheol Shin
told Reuters on Friday.
LG Chem is already moving ahead with battery joint ventures
with GM and Geely and hopes to expand to other
car makers, Shin said, without elaborating.
"Our joint ventures with Geely and GM have been already
announced, and we have ongoing discussions with a couple of
other automakers," he said.
The South Korean company currently supplies batteries from
its Nanjing, China, factory for Model 3 vehicles built at
Tesla's Shanghai plant.
"We have started supplying to Tesla in earnest, and this is
the beginning of a good partnership and we hope to expand the
partnership," he said.
We are in talks to expand cooperation with almost all
automakers, and Tesla is one of them, he said.
However, Shin added that Tesla is not one of the companies
LG Chem is discussing joint ventures with at this point.
LG Chem shares, which rallied earlier this year, have lost
steam on its plan to split off its battery business and fire
risks associated with its batteries supplied for Hyundai Motor's
Kona and GM's Bolt.
Shin defended the plan to separate the battery business as
necessary to fund large-scale investments in factory expansion.
The unit will first become a wholly-owned subsidiary tentatively
named LG Energy Solutions and then up to 30% of the company may
be listed in an initial offering in about a year.
"To maintain our number one position in the face of rising
competition from Chinese firms and others, we need to pour
capital into battery production and research," he said.
LG Chem is looking for a site to build a new factory in
Europe, as it plans to more than double its global car battery
capacity to 260 gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2023, from 120 GWh this
To tackle the concerns around battery safety, Shin said that
LG Chem has formed a task force with Hyundai Motor
and the South Korean government to find the root cause of the
battery fires in the Kona EV.
South Korea's transport ministry said Hyundai will recall
the Kona EV because of possible faulty manufacturing of its
battery cells that could pose a fire risk.
However, LG Chem denies that faulty battery cells were the
cause of the fires and the exact cause had not been determined.
LG Chem is also looking at building new petrochemical
production facilities in the United States and Southeast Asia to
drive growth for its mainstay petrochemicals business, Shin
"We see the future of LG Chem would be bright after the
split-off," he said.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Heekyong Yang; Editing by