SEOUL — South Korea's LG Chem on Wednesday completed what it described as the world's largest battery plant for electric cars and vowed to become a major producer by 2015.
The company said the factory in Ochang, south of Seoul, has enough capacity to produce lithium-ion batteries for 100,000 of the green autos a year.
And LG Chem, part of the LG group, said it would spend two trillion won ($1.84 billion) on building one more plant in South Korea and another in the United States over the next two years.
When completed, LG Chem will be able to make batteries for 350,000 vehicles a year, and the firm said it was aiming to increase its share of the global electric-car battery market to more than 25 percent by 2015.
The company has secured deals to provide batteries for US giant General Motors as well as Hyundai of South Korea and eight other automakers.
President Lee Myung-Bak said at a ceremony in Ochang that South Korea's future depended on its performance in green technologies, adding that growth in that sector was an "unavoidable choice" in the times of climate change.
The battery plant is a key plank of Lee's drive to develop renewable and substitute energy sources as new growth engines for South Korea's economy, the president's office said.
It predicts the global market for electric car batteries will grow rapidly to 16 trillion won in 2015 from the current 1.5 trillion won amid soaring oil prices and tougher environmental rules on emissions.
LE Chem targets sales of four trillion won from its battery business by 2015 and chief executive Kim Bahn-Suk said the company expects to win more orders from Japanese automakers.
Analysts say South Korean firms are well placed to earn new orders for rechargeable batteries as Japan's devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami created disruptions for many of that country's manufacturers.
Samsung SDI, which supplies batteries to Apple and Samsung Electronics, plans to spend 390.5 billion won this year on new facilities for lithium-ion batteries.
Samsung SDI will mainly use its investment to develop new battery production facilities and bolster existing plants to cater to strong demand for newer electronics gadgets, spokesman David Kim told Dow Jones Newswires.
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