|Samsung SDI CEO Choi Yoon-ho, left, and Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart shake hands after signing an agreement to establish a joint venture in the U.S. state of Indiana in this May 2022 file photo. Courtesy of Samsung SDI
By Park Jae-hyuk
Samsung SDI indicated its intention to set up another joint venture with a U.S. carmaker to expand its presence in the rapidly growing North American electric vehicle (EV) market.
In response to a question about its joint venture plan in the U.S. market following one it founded in collaboration with Stellantis, the Korean EV battery maker said it is in talks with its multiple customers regarding this issue.
"The U.S. has shown lower EV penetration rates than Europe and China, but it will be the fastest-growing market in the future, thanks to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)," Samsung SDI Executive Vice President Michael Son said at Monday's conference call on the company's fourth-quarter earnings.
"As a result, there have been more opportunities for carmakers and battery manufacturers targeting the U.S. market, and our company has also seized plenty of opportunities under the circumstances."
His remarks came amid speculation that Samsung SDI may replace LG Energy Solution (LGES) for the construction of General Motors' fourth EV battery plant in the U.S. state of Indiana.
GM has reportedly been looking for another partner for the project, as LGES remains skeptical about the plan, due to the uncertain macroeconomic outlook and a conflict with the U.S. carmaker over how to respond to a unionization drive by workers at their joint venture's Ohio factory.
Samsung SDI said it will communicate with the market, once more details are confirmed.
It also unveiled its plan to start the production of 46-phi batteries (cylindrical batteries with a diameter of 46 millimeters) and solid-state batteries this year, saying it is in talks with multiple carmakers to supply the next-generation batteries to them.
|Samsung SDI headquarters in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province / Courtesy of Samsung SDI
Although the Samsung Group affiliate has been considered less aggressive than LGES and SK On in terms of global expansion, the company made it clear once again that it will continue prioritizing profitability.
Based on the profit-first strategy, Samsung SDI's annual operating profit rose 69.4 percent year-on-year last year to a record 1.8 trillion won ($1.4 billion), while its sales also soared to an unprecedented 20.1 trillion won in 2022, up 48.5 percent from a year earlier.
In particular, its annual operating profit from the energy sector, which includes its battery business, jumped 133.2 percent to 1.2 trillion won.
"It was a milestone year where all business segments reached the annual business targets, producing all-time high results," Samsung SDI CEO Choi Yoon-ho said in a press release. "We will endeavor to execute each and every business strategy as planned and make 2023 a truly fruitful year, stepping up as a company fully geared with super-gap technology competitiveness, the best quality and profitable qualitative growth."