ATLANTA -- South Korean lithium ion battery producer SK Innovation Co. is doubling down on its planned $1.67 billion electric vehicle battery plant in north Georgia.
The company is considering plowing up to $5 billion more into the project, SK Innovation CEO Jun Kim said Friday.
SK will begin construction this year on the plant in Commerce, Ga., about an hour northeast of Atlanta, with plans to employ 2,000 workers and produce an annual volume of lithium ion batteries equal to 9.8 gigawatt-hours by 2022.
SK Innovation supplies Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Kia. In November, Volkswagen named SK as a battery supplier for its EVs.
SK's decision to build the battery plant in the Southeast, a burgeoning hub for vehicle production, is strategic.
Hyundai and Mercedes operate assembly plants nearby in Alabama, as does Honda. Mazda and Toyota have broken ground on a jointly owned factory in Alabama, and Kia has a plant in Georgia. Also near the SK site is Volkswagen's assembly plant in Chattanooga.
SK's battery manufacturing investment in the U.S. can't come soon enough.
In 2017, IHS Markit estimated the global auto industry will require battery production capacity equal to 305 gigawatt-hours of power storage in 2025 to supply all of the electrified vehicles automakers plan to build.
That forecast has since been updated.
"Our latest expectation is that global capacity for automotive traction batteries will need to rise to over 550 gigawatt-hours in 2025 in order to satisfy our latest demand projections," said Andrew Fulbrook, executive director of light-vehicle powertrain research and analysis fro IHS Markit.