Bosch and Samsung joint venture for lithium-ion batteries starts operations

The objective of the new company is to develop, manufacture, and sell lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. It is planned to start series manufacturing of highly efficient lithium-ion battery systems customized to automotive requirements and to market them worldwide in 2011.

To achieve this, the joint venture partners will jointly invest between 300 and 400 million dollars in the next five years. The new company will be led by Youngwoo Park (Samsung SDI), who will be in charge of finance, production, sales, and purchasing, and Dr. Joachim Fetzer (Bosch), who will be responsible for engineering and quality. A few days ago, Bosch and Samsung SDI received the approval from all relevant authorities for the establishment of the joint venture.

SB LiMotive is headquartered in Suwon, South Korea. This will also apply initially to battery cell development. Further, initial production of lithiumion cells is also planned in Korea. Roughly 100 associates will be located there. In Germany, a subsidiary based in Stuttgart will be established.

At first, 40 associates will work there in sales, marketing and system engineering. The location of the manufacturing sites for battery systems will be announced at a later date.

Lithium-ion batteries are the basis for forward-looking technologies in the electric vehicles, such as hybrid or electric drives. Bosch and Samsung expect a market volume of some three million hybrid vehicles by 2015. The prime objective of the joint venture is to optimize lithium-ion battery technology to meet the exacting requirements associated with the automobile – with respect to power density and safety, for example – and in this way to allow purely electrically powered driving over longer distances.

First customer for the joint venture set up in 2008 SB LiMotive to supply lithium-ion battery cells for BMW’s "Megacity Vehicle" project

SB LiMotive – the Samsung SDI and Bosch joint venture – will supply lithiumion battery cells to BMW. The German automaker will install the battery cells in its first electric car, which is currently being developed as part of the "Megacity Vehicle" project. The zeroemission vehicles will go into series production in the first half of the next decade.

“The decision is an important milestone on the way to series production of the Megacity Vehicle. The battery is a key component in any electric vehicle, since it determines its range and performance. In SB LiMotive, we have found a supplier that offers us the best available technology, and that combines German automotive competence with Korean battery knowhow,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the BMW AG board, explaining the decision.

Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, said: “This success is mainly the result of SB LiMotive’s efforts to enter the market with an innovative and competitive technology even before the company is one year old." And Soon Taek Kim, CEO of Samsung SDI, said "acquiring this project is an important step toward gaining a foothold in the market for electric cars.”
Young Woo Park, President of SB LiMotive: “Between now and 2013, we will invest 500 million U.S. dollars in the development and manufacturing of lithium-ion cells and battery systems for hybrid and electric cars.”
Dr. Joachim Fetzer, Executive Vice President of SB LiMotive, said: “We aim to quickly establish ourselves as a leading cell and battery system supplier in all markets worldwide. Out of 100 million newly produced vehicles in 2020, we expect to see some three million electric cars and plug-in hybrids as well as six million hybrid vehicles.”

One of the main reasons why BMW opted for SB LiMotive’s lithium-ion battery technology was the combined know-how of its parent companies Samsung SDI and Bosch. Samsung SDI brings extensive large-scale series production experience into the partnership, as well as manufacturing competence in the area of lithium-ion cell production. Moreover, the company is an innovation and development leader in the realm of lithium-ion technology. The company already produces a wide range of lithium-ion batteries for use in laptops, cell phones, and power tools. For its part, Bosch can contribute its comprehensive systems competence when it comes to integrating lithium-ion technology in the overall concept of the automobile. In its business unit for hybrid and electric drives, Bosch has comprehensive know-how in the areas of power electronics, electric motors, transmissions, and DC/DC converters. Some years ago, moreover, Bosch was the first power-tool manufacturer to successfully integrate lithium-ion batteries.

Authorities approve Bosch and Samsung joint venture for lithium-ion batteries

In June 2008, Robert Bosch GmbH and Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. signed an agreement to form a fifty-fifty joint venture to develop, manufacture, and sell lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. All the relevant authorities have now given their approval for the joint venture, the precondition to company closing. The company will be known as “SB LiMotive Co. Ltd.”. Operations expected to start in September 2008. The objective is to series-manufacture highly efficient lithium-ion batteries customized to automotive requirements and to market them worldwide from 2011.