Continental and SK Innovation Join Forces to Develop and Supply First Class Battery Technology

SK Innovation, Seoul (South Korea), and the international automotive supplier Continental, Hanover (Germany), will develop and supply first class battery technology for the automotive industry as partners in the future. Monday in Frankfurt/Main, the two technology leaders signed an agreement founding a jointly managed company. The know-how of the two firms will be concentrated in this new company with the goal of mutually developing, producing and globally marketing lithium-ion battery systems for cars. The operational phase has thus been initiated just six months after the letter of intent.

‘The cooperation of the two companies’ capabilities and technologies is a remarkable starting point to open a new horizon for future transport. The combination of SK’s battery cell know how and Continental´s battery system know how will yield the best solution for the operation of electric car batteries and therefore suggests the most evolved model to the global automobile market,’ noted Chey Jae-won, executive vice chairman of SK Group.

‘We will make up a strong team that will work together highly effectively in developing and manufacturing one of the technologies that is key for future mobility. In this way, we can support our global automotive customers in introducing electric drive systems with state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery technology,’ adds Dr. Elmar Degenhart, Chairman of the Executive Board of Continental.

Continental and SK Innovation anticipate that, as CO2 regulations become more stringent worldwide, electrically assisted drives and pure electric vehicles will become increasingly important in the market. And the battery is one of the key components of these technologies. The new joint company will draw on the expertise of the two technology leaders behind it:

SK Innovation is providing its well-founded know-how in the development of battery cells, which are technologically at the cutting edge in this field with respect to energy or power density, depending on the design. In addition, SK Innovation is one of the leading suppliers of separators.

In turn, the international automotive supplier Continental has many years of experience in developing and producing battery electronics and entire battery systems as well as integrating them into the vehicle. Continental supplied the first mass-produced lithium-ion batteries already in 2007. ‘The new venture is thus in an ideal position to establish itself as a pioneer in cutting edge technology for battery solutions for the international automotive industry. Potential customers responded very positively to the announcement of our plans,’ says Jose Avila, Member of the Executive Board of Continental and Head of Powertrain Division

Both of the founding companies will continue to pursue their own business strategy.

SK Innovation will hold a 51% stake in the new company, Continental 49%. The business strategies of SK Innovation and of Continental will remain unaffected by the joint management of this new company. Both companies will continue to supply their customers in the automotive industry with their entire existing product range.

The venture, which will be managed operationally from Berlin, is slated to start business in the fourth quarter of this year. Its research and development activities will be carried out in Daejon, South Korea, in addition to Berlin. Production, marketing and sales will be set up locally in the target markets worldwide. Initially, there will be about 200 employees worldwide, with both partner companies providing equal portions of the workforce.

With sales of €30.5 billion in 2011, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has approximately 167,000 employees in 46 countries.

Continental has been investing in the development and optimization of climate-friendly systems and components for alternative drives for over ten years. In 100 series projects for 20 manufacturers worldwide, around 1,600 specialists are currently working on further developing existing concepts as well as new innovations for hybrid and electric vehicles. To ensure safe, efficient, networked and comfortable mobility, Continental is bringing together the corporation’s expertise in integration, energy optimization, drive management, vehicle safety, information management and tires. Hybrid and electric vehicle components from all business units can be adapted to specific vehicle requirements worldwide, allowing them to be used in almost all vehicle classes and drive types.

SK Innovation, founded in 1962 as Korea’s first oil refinery and with sales of US$59.3 billion in 2011, is one of the world’s leading energy and petrochemical companies. SK Innovation, which focuses on research and development, deals primarily with lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, materials for information electronics materials (I/E) for IT devices and the field of exploration and production (E&P), while its subsidiaries SK Energy (South Korea’s largest refinery company), SK Global Chemical (global top-tier chemical company) and SK Lubricants (global market leader for technically sophisticated and high-grade lubricants) successfully pursue their own business visions and strategies. SKI’s lithium-ion battery business unit was created in 1996 and currently supplies leading international carmakers including Daimler and Hyundai.