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Korean Industrial Insight No. 1 of AI, Semiconductors, Batteries and Electric vehicles

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2024-06-05

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Ⅰ. AI INDUSTRY TRENDS

1. Generative AI era, Role of competition authorities… Fair Trade Commission•OECD Joint Conference

- Discussion of competition issues and strategic•policy roles, etc. …"Need for Fairness Guarantee Regulations"
The Fair Trade Commission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came together to examine newly emerging competition issues following the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and discuss the policy role of the authorities.
The Fair Trade Commission and OECD held a conference with a theme of ‘Generative AI and Competition Policy’.
Generative AI refers to a technology that artificial intelligence creates new contents through analysis and learning based on various types of data such as text, images, and videos, etc..
At this conference, high-level officials from each organization, including HAN Ki-jeong, Chairman of Fair Trade Commission and Frederick Jenny, Chairman of OECD Competition Committee, as well as academic and private experts, attended to discuss competition issues related to generative AI and the direction of competition policy.
In Part 1, which was held under the theme of the role of competition policy in the generative AI supply chain, discussions and presentations were made on the potential risks of the generative AI supply chain, the response of Korean and Japanese competition authorities, and policy implications, etc..
In Part 2, which focused on competition issues and strategies related to data in AI models, discussions were held on the importance of data in AI-based models, solutions to competition concerns caused by data, and the policy direction of competition authorities.
In the final Part 3, which focused on ensuring competition in cloud computing services and AI, discussions were held on potential market distortions, competition concerns, and policy implications, etc. related to cloud infrastructure services.
HAN Ki-jeong, Chairman of the Fair Trade Commission said in his opening speech, “In AI-related industries, it is necessary to create a foundation that allows for fair competition and prevents foul play by market participants while continuing innovation growth” and “In that respect, this conference is very meaningful in establishing competition policy directions and discussing the role of competition authorities.”
He went on to mention the AI policy report currently being promoted by the Fair Trade Commission and expected that "policy reports on competition and consumer issues will help increase the predictability of innovative companies and establish a fair competitive order in the AI field."
Frederick Jenny, Chairman of OECD Competition Committee, said in his keynote speech “the growth of the digital sector is raising new competitive concerns about market functioning and competitiveness,” and he emphasized that “we need balanced regulation to ensure market fairness while promoting innovation.”
The Fair Trade Commission said, “by referring to the conference discussions, we will seek ways to pursue competition policies appropriate for the rapidly changing generative AI era.”

2. ‘AI that penetrates everyday life’… Hot contest of ‘On-device AI’ from PC to smartphone

AI PC, following Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, Apple and MS join
iPhone challenges the Galaxy series that dominates AI phones
In line with the slogans of the artificial intelligence (AI) business promoted by global IT companies such as 'AI for Everyone' of Samsung Electronics and 'AI Everywhere' of Intel, AI is rapidly spreading into the daily lives of general consumers. Following the 'AI phone' market that Samsung Electronics pioneered through the 'Galaxy S24' series, the application of AI functions is expanding to PCs and the era of ‘On-Device AI’ is opening in earnest.
Microsoft (MS) recently entered the AI PC market in earnest by announcing ‘CoPilot+PC’ equipped with the generative AI model CoPilot. MS is confident that ‘CoPilot+PC’ is ‘the fastest AI Windows in existence’. It is said to be capable of calculating 40 trillion operations per second, making the processing speed 58% faster than Apple's MacBook Air.
While domestic and foreign IT companies are competing to release AI PCs, market competition is expected to become more intense with MS joining the market. Samsung Electronics launched its first AI laptop 'Galaxy Book 4' series equipped with 'Intel Core Ultra processor' early this year. On the 18th of next month, the 'Galaxy Book 4 Edge' equipped with MS's 'Co-Pilot+PC' and Qualcomm's latest PC processor, 'Snapdragon X Elite', will go on sale.
LG Electronics also introduced the '2024 LG Gram Pro' equipped with 'Intel Core Ultra Processor' in January. Apple, which has been evaluated as lagging behind in the AI competition, is also planning to introduce the 'Mac series' equipped with the latest AI processor, 'M4'.
‘On-device AI’ is a technology that allows people to use AI functions directly on devices such as laptops and tablets without a separate Internet connection. It provides improved performance and efficiency for processing AI and generative AI tasks without relying on external or cloud servers.
The PC industry believes that this year will be the first year of ‘AI PC’. According to market research firm, GARTNER, 240 million generative AI smartphones and 54.5 million AI PCs are expected to be shipped this year. This is a more than 10-fold increase from last year’s level of 29 million units per year. AI smartphones and AI PCs are expected to occupy about 22% of each market share. Looking at AI PCs alone, it is predicted that they will record an average annual growth rate of 44% from this year to 2028.
Apple is also challenging the 'AI phone' market that Samsung Electronics preoccupied early this year by launching the 'Galaxy S24' series, the world's first equipped with AI functions. Apple is working to install generative AI on the iPhone. It is reported that the AI strategy will be announced at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month. Experts predict that the new iPhone 16, released this year, will be Apple's first AI phone..
Samsung Electronics, which has confirmed the potential of ‘Galaxy AI’, is speeding up the expansion of its AI ecosystem. System updates are provided so that the Galaxy AI function applied to the Galaxy S24 can be used in major products released last year, such as the Galaxy S23 series. Through this, functions such as △Real-time interpretation △Chat Assist △Circle to Search △Note Assist △Browsing Assist △Generative Editing △Edit Suggestion △Instant Slomo △Generative Wallpapers, etc. can be used in the same way as the Galaxy S24 series.

3. "From beginning to finish, AI creates"... HS Ad releases Korea’s first 100% AI-produced advertisement

HS Ad announced that they presented Korea's first advertisement produced using 100% artificial intelligence.
LG U+'s new brand advertisement produced by HS Ad was implemented only with AI video without any separate filming. For the 30-second short video, AI generation sources with over 200,000 frames, 8 AI programs, and LG U+'s AI technology 'IKSI' were used.
By using AI, advertising production costs have been significantly reduced compared to before. This LG U+ brand advertisement also had production costs reduced by about 40% compared to advertisements produced with 100% 3D animation. HS Ad is applying AI not only to advertisement production but also to the overall marketing business.




Ⅱ. SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY TRENDS

1. ‘Low interest loan’ for semiconductor investment… 26 trillion won in support for ‘semiconductor war’
The government plans to support the semiconductor industry worth a total of 26 trillion won. Semiconductor investment funds will be supported with preferential interest rates, and infrastructure support for semiconductor clusters will also be strengthened. The deadline for applying tax credits for national strategic technologies is extended. The portion of support funds that goes to small-medium•mid-sized companies is designed to be at least 70%.
President YOON Seok-yeol presided over the '2nd Economic Issues Review Meeting' at the President's Office in Yongsan, Seoul on the 23rd and discussed 'comprehensive support measures for the semiconductor ecosystem'. The comprehensive support plan for the semiconductor ecosystem includes △finance•funds △infrastructure △R&D (research and development) and human resources training △tax support, etc..
First, a new ‘Semiconductor Financial Support Program’ worth 18.1 trillion won will be established. The government will establish a loan program worth 17 trillion won through investment in the Korea Development Bank. Through this, semiconductor investment funds are lent at preferential interest rates. The size of Korea Development Bank's investment and the specific loan interest rate have not been confirmed.
The semiconductor ecosystem fund, currently being raised at 300 billion won, will be expanded to more than 1.1 trillion won. President YOON said, “We will support promising Fabless (semiconductor design companies) and subsidiaries (materials•components•equipment) to grow into global companies.” Yongin Semiconductor Cluster speeds up construction. CHOI Sang-mok, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance, said in a briefing on this day, "Industrial complex development usually takes seven years to start construction, including establishment of a development plan and compensation for land, etc.." and added "We will cut the time required for construction by half by promoting plan establishment and compensation, etc. at the same time."
Construction of roads, water, and power grids, which are the core infrastructure of the industrial complex, will be empowered through simplification of preliminary procedures and cost sharing among related agencies, etc.. In particular, National Road 45 in the Yongin Semiconductor Cluster, which currently has 4 lanes, will be relocated and expanded to 8 lanes.
President Yoon said “time is a subsidy, so the speed of solving problems is the most important,” and emphasized "the government and public sector will take responsibility for creating infrastructure such as electricity, water, and roads at a rapid pace to ensure that there are no setbacks in the creation of semiconductor cluster.“
Tax support for the semiconductor sector will also be reorganized. An extension of the application deadline for the integrated investment tax credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, is being promoted. The integrated investment tax credit is a system that provides a tax credit for a company's business equipment and facilities at a certain rate of the investment amount. The deduction rate for national strategic technology is 25-35% for small and medium-sized companies and 15-25% for mid-sized and large companies.
Deputy Prime Minister CHOI said, "We will expand the scope of application of R&D tax credits, including the purchase cost of semiconductor design software," and emphasized "We will shorten the depreciation period for R&D equipment and expand the scope of national strategic technologies in the semiconductor field to ensure that essential technologies are not omitted."
In addition, support for R&D and human resources training in the semiconductor field, which amounted to 3 trillion won over the past three years, will be expanded to more than 5 trillion won over the next three years. The preliminary feasibility study for semiconductor-related R&D projects will be completed as soon as possible. A plan is also being taken to foster professional manpower by expanding semiconductor specialized universities and graduate school programs.
The government will finalize the semiconductor ecosystem support plan in June. In order to promote the system semiconductor field, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the global market but where Korean companies are less competitive, a 'System Semiconductor Growth Strategy' will be prepared and announced in August.
President YOON said, “If corporate investment expands and profits increase through tax support, people will enjoy more quality jobs, which will revive people’s livelihoods and lead to an increase in tax revenue, so ‘semiconductors are livelihoods.’” and added, “Small-medium and mid-sized companies benefit from more than 70% of the comprehensive semiconductor industry support programs.”

2. Semiconductor Division CEO replacement in Samsung, Tech expert, JUN Young-hyun re-appointed as Vice Chairman

- Worst performance, DS division head replaced
- Losing the leadership in HBM, a sense of crisis spreads
- In a move to up its game with the protagonist of the ‘Memory Myth’

Samsung Electronics has taken chances by suddenly replacing the head of its semiconductor (DS) division to regain leadership in high-bandwidth memory (HBM), the core of artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductors. Appointing Vice Chairman JUN Young-hyun, who previously presided over the memory business, as the head of semiconductor business after seven years, they set out for a major atmosphere reform.
Samsung Electronics said on the 21st that it has appointed JUN Young-hyun, head of the Future Business Planning Division (Vice Chairman), as head of the DS division, which oversees the semiconductor business. It is interpreted as a ploy to resolve uncertainty by replacing the head of the semiconductor industry and strengthening the semiconductor investment sector, and to catch two birds with one stone: the present and the future. A Samsung Electronics official explained, “This appointment is a preemptive measure to fortify the future competitiveness of semiconductors by renewing the internal and external atmosphere.”
Some industry sources say that the deterioration of Samsung's semiconductor business, which had its worst performance in 15 years last year, is the reason for this personnel replacement. Samsung Electronics has been overwhelming its competitors based on its 'super gap' technology since it rose to the top in memory semiconductors during the era of the late Samsung Chairman LEE, Kun-hee.
Last year, the memory business faced a crisis as it lost leadership in HBM, a key component of AI semiconductors, to its competitor, SK Hynix. Although the recovery of information technology (IT) demand due to the global economic recession was slow, many analyzes said that this was largely due to a failure to properly read market changes.
Samsung Electronics expects that its executives and employees will renew their determination through technological innovation and reform of the organizational atmosphere, led by the Vice Chairman, JUN, and will strengthen the technological gap and future competitiveness of the semiconductor industry. In fact, the DS division is expected to gain even more strength by being upgraded to a vice-chairman level organization again after 2 years and 6 months since December 2021, with Vice Chairman, JUN taking charge of the division.
Samsung Electronics plans to proceed with the appointment of Vice Chairman JUN as CEO through next year's regular general shareholders' meeting and board of directors meeting.

3. SK Hynix• and Samsung Electronics, All-out war to dominate next-generation HBM4

"Up to HBM3E, the base die (see tip) was made using our own process, but starting from HBM4, we are collaborating with TSMC to increase performance and efficiency. We agreed to develop technologies that go much deeper than those we have collaborated on so far.
This is what SK Hynix CEO KWAK No-jeong said about the High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) technology cooperation with Taiwan's TSMC on May 2. Recently, the two companies decided to jointly develop the next-generation HBM, HBM4 (6th generation HBM). The goal is to develop high-performance HBM4 based on the base die produced by the TSMC foundry. As the competition for HBM development is intensifying due to the advancement of generative artificial intelligence (AI), collaboration between SK Hynix, No. 1 in the HBM industry, and TSMC, the foundry powerhouse, comes with the goal of defending against competitors' pursuit.
TSMC’s presence is growing in HBM ?
The two companies are expected to jointly develop HBM4 by having TSMC produce the base die and SK Hynix stack DRAM on top. So far, SK Hynix has been producing base dies on its own, but the biggest change is that starting with HBM4, it will outsource this to TSMC. This is because, starting with HBM4, the packaging technique has changed so that the base die processes a part of the HBM calculation. This kind of performance can only be achieved by changing the base die process to 5 nm or less through foundry power. Currently, there are only two foundry companies capable of ultra-fine processes below 5nm: TSMC and Samsung Electronics. Since SK Hynix cannot develop base dies with Samsung Electronics, a competitor in the HBM market, TSMC was the only option from the beginning.
TSMC disclosed details of cooperation at the 'TSMC Europe Technology Symposium' held in Amsterdam, Netherlands on May 19 (local time), saying, "We will apply 12nm process and 5nm process technology to HBM4 base die." The strategy of both companies is to solidify their leadership in the HBM4 market based on this alliance structure. SK Hynix has advanced mass production of HBM4 12-layer, originally scheduled for 2026, to next year. In a recent interview with foreign media, it was revealed that “HBM3E yield was close to the target of 80%,” which is interpreted as securing the stability of HBM process technology.
However, there are concerns that this cooperation could be detrimental to SK Hynix in the long term. This is because until now, SK Hynix produced base dies and DRAM and handed them over to TSMC, which then packaged them with other components and delivered them to customers, but starting with HBM4, TSMC has played a pivotal role in HBM production. As the division of labor system in the existing AI semiconductor market is broken, TSMC's influence may increase in the HBM market, which has been led by domestic DRAM companies such as SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics.
"Samsung Electronics’ Turnkey will shine "
At this time, the market's eyes are focused on Samsung Electronics, which ranks second in HBM and second in foundry. Samsung Electronics has emphasized HBM's 'turnkey strategy (batch implementation)' by highlighting its strengths as an 'integrated semiconductor company (IDM)' that encompasses everything from DRAM to foundry. Although it has not yet overcome the barrier of its largest customer, NVIDIA, it has recently drawn its sword to overcome HBM's sluggish performance. The sudden replacement of the head of the semiconductor division (DS) on May 21 from President KYE Kyeong-hyeon to Future Business Planning Director (Vice-Chairman) JUN Young-hyun is an example. As the DS division's deficit approached 15 trillion won last year and the ongoing delivery of the 12-layer HBM3E to NVIDIA continued to be delayed, it is interpreted that an internal judgment was made that new leadership was needed. Previously, Samsung Electronics also established a new ‘HBM task force’ in the DS division.

Ⅲ. BATTERY INDUSTRY TREND

1. LG Energy Solution lays foundation for the future with bold investment in the United States…"The slowdown in the electric vehicle market is short-term."

LG Energy Solution continues to invest for the future even though demand in the electric vehicle market is slowing down due to the global economic downturn. They view the current situation as a short-term stagnation and believe that they will be able to enjoy the preemptive entry effect when the global electric vehicle market enters a full-fledged growth period.
According to LG Energy Solutions, the first battery cell produced at Ultium Cells' second plant, a joint venture with GM, was recently delivered to customers.
The batteries produced at this factory are scheduled to be installed in GM's new 3rd generation electric vehicle models, such as the 'Cadillac Lyriq', etc.. Ultium Cells' second plant plans to expand its production capacity to a total of 50GWh by gradually increasing its operating lines. This is enough to produce approximately 600,000 high-performance pure electric vehicles that can drive more than 500 km on a single charge.
LG Energy Solution is not slowing down its investments in stand-alone factories in addition to joint venture factories. The battery production plant in Arizona, USA, which recently began construction, is significant in that it is ‘the first dedicated production plant’ for cylindrical ESS (Energy Storage Systems). This plant will be built with 36GWh of cylindrical batteries and 17GWh of ESS LFP batteries, with a total production capacity of 53GWh.
The ESS-dedicated battery plant will produce pouch-type LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries independently developed by LG Energy Solutions. LG Energy Solution plans to secure price competitiveness by reducing logistics and customs costs through local production in the United States and provide differentiated customer value by providing immediate on-site support and management services, etc. in response to customer requests.
An official from LG Energy Solutions said, "We will overcome the chasm by expanding our portfolio based on technology leadership."

2. The battery does not fail even after 500 times faster charging

A domestic research team solved the problem of a drop in performance of electric vehicles when fast charging is used for more than 1 to 2 years with a simple coating on the anode materials.
The Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) announced on the 27th that Dr. CHOI Jeonghee's research team at the Electrical Materials Process Research Center, in collaboration with ProfessorLEE Jongwon's team at Hanyang University and Professor PARK Minsik's team at Kyung Hee University, developed a process technology that maintains 83.4% performance even after 500 times rapid charges.
The research team has currently verified the performance of up to 500 mAh level pouch cells. In the future, it is planned to be applied to large area-medium to large-sized batteries with increasing capacity.
Professor LEE Jongwon said “The biggest obstacles to expanding the distribution of electric vehicles are improving driving range, ensuring safety, and faster charging” and "In particular, if the thickness of the electrodes inside the battery is thickened for faster charging, degradation occurs and performance drops significantly."
The research team solved the degradation among these obstacles by partially coating the surface of the negative (-) electrode plate of a lithium-ion battery with very small ‘aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃)’ particles less than 1㎛.
The advantage of aluminum oxide is its low price. It has excellent electrical insulation, heat resistance, chemical stability, and mechanical properties.
Professor LEE Jongwon explained "Aluminum oxide particles effectively controlled the interface between the lithium-ion battery anode and the electrolyte and induced rapid movement of lithium ions." and "Even during faster charging, it prevents lithium electrodeposition (irreversible lithium that cannot be charged or discharged) and ensures a stable charging • discharging life of lithium-ion batteries."
Professor LEE Jongwon further explained "Because the surface of the graphite anode is treated, stable performance is possible even when fast charging is applied to a thick film electrode with high energy density without a reversible decrease in the amount of lithium.”
The research team verified the performance after coating aluminum oxide on the graphite anode material and found that the high energy density cathode electrode (4.4 mAh/cm2) maintained a residual capacity ratio of more than 83.4% even after 500 times faster charging. On the other hand, the capacity maintenance rate of existing batteries drops to 55.9% after 500 times faster charging.
Professor LEE Jongwon added that “In the meanwhile, domestic and foreign researchers have focused on active materials inside electrodes as a solution to the degradation.” but “We solved this problem with a simple coating and secured patents in Korea and the United States.”
The research was conducted with funding from the Samsung Future Technology Promotion Project and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy's Industrial Technology Innovation Project (development of electric vehicle high-output battery and charging system technology).

3. LG Ensol executives, ALL go to U.S. recruitment events to catch ‘battery talent’

LG Energy Solutions executives went all out to a U.S. recruitment event to secure ‘battery talent’. This is because the company believes that securing talent is a priority in order to survive in an increasingly fierce struggle for survival, such as Chinese competitors’ ‘Battery Rise’. As global factories are opening in the United States and other countries in the future, there is also an intention to secure more engineers.
LG Energy Solutions announced that it held ‘BTC’, an event to recruit global talent, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York, USA on the 25th (local time). This is the second time since the event was held in San Francisco, USA last year. About 40 master's degree and Ph.D. students from leading universities and research institutes, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Cornell University, and Argonne National Laboratory, attended the event.
To welcome 40 people, CEO KIM Dong-myeong (CEO/President), CDO LEE Jin-gyu (Chief Digital Officer/Executive Director), KIM Ki-soo CHO (Chief Human Resources Officer/Executive Director), KIM Je-young CTO (Chief Technology Officer/Executive Director), and Future Technology Center Director JEONG Geun-chang (All seven key executives, including Vice President), CHOI Seung-don, head of the Automotive Battery Development Center (Vice President), and KIM Young-hoon, in charge of AI/Big Data/AI Solutions (Managing Director), all seven key executives attended.
With a view that one top-tier talent speeds up research and development, the entire C-level team has begun to ‘woo’ one top-tier talent.
At the event, President KIM said, “The most important thing in management is talent,” and “All processes in the company’s management system, from product research and development to manufacturing and sales, are ultimately done by people.” He also added, “The battery market is now at the starting point of growth,” and “Everything that moves in the world will be powered by batteries.”
President KIM shared the company's future growth vision with the attendees, and each executive gave a detailed introduction to their respective responsibility for solid-state batteries, material technology, AI, and big data. Some attendees also participated in on-site interviews and went through employment screening. One attendee said, “I was attracted to the fact that the CEO was serious about securing talent, even coming to the United States.” A company official said, “We have secured a large number of talented people even after last year’s San Francisco event.”

4. K Battery, LG Energy Solutions, Samsung SDI, SK On, etc … Electric vehicle slump expected to be overcome with ESS

The Energy Storage System (ESS) market is rapidly expanding in the United States. ESS refers to a system that stores energy and releases it when needed.

Korean Battery boasts world-class technology in manufacturing battery cells, modules, and packs, which are key components of ESS systems. The main feature and advantages of Korean ESS are ▲outstanding performance such as high energy density, fast charge/discharge speed, and long lifespan, ▲maximized safety by minimizing fire risk by applying cutting-edge technology, ▲secured high reliability through a strict quality control system, and ▲competitive prices through mass production systems and efficient production processes, etc..

According to Global Market Insights, an American data research company, the size of the U.S. ESS market will triple from $68 billion (KRW 93 trillion) at the end of 2023 to $200 billion (KRW 273 trillion) by 2030. According to SNE Research, a market research company, the North American ESS market is expected to grow more than 10 times from 14.1GWh in 2021 to 159.2GWh in 2030.

As to the rapid expansion of the U.S. market, the world's second largest ESS market, ▲a 50% drop in the price of solar panels sold with ESS in one year, ▲a 15% drop in the price of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are key components of ESS, ▲ a 20-30% plunge in the price of the 'solar power generation facility + ESS' bundle over the past year, ▲the expansion of solar power generation facilities, etc. are said to be the cause of the surge in demand.

Regardless of whether it is for industrial or household purposes, ESS must store electricity produced by solar or wind power somewhere. Solar panel price has plummeted from 20 to 25 cents per W in early 2023 to the low 10 cents currently, due to the influx of Chinese products.
According to an announcement on May 20, 2024 by Wood Mackenzie, a global energy sector research company, the ESS newly installed in the United States in 2023 was 25,978 MWh, which increases double the 13,163 MWh in 2022 and a 30 times from 829 MWh in 2018. It increased about seven times from 1,781 MWh in the first quarter of 2023 to 12,351 MWh in the 4th quarter.

Accordingly, due to the temporary slump in demand before the popularization of electric vehicles, domestic battery companies are known to have actively taken steps to overcome the electric vehicle chasm, such as promoting plans to convert electric vehicle battery production lines at U.S. factories to ESS lines. A battery industry official forecasted, “We have no choice but to give strength to ESS in order to raise factory operation rates, which have fallen due to the electric vehicle chasm.”

Currently, China is ranked first in the ESS market, occupying 90% of the global market with LFP batteries, which are 30 to 50% cheaper than Korea's ternary (NCA or NCM) batteries. ESS, which is installed in a fixed location, has priority over price competitiveness and is more advantageous than the high price of electric vehicle ternary batteries. Accordingly, K battery companies hope to fight well with LFP ESS.

Among K battery companies, LG Energy Solutions is the first to complete the development of LFP ESS and will begin mass production in 2025, and Samsung SDI is also reported to begin production in 2026.

LG Energy Solutions has received orders from Hanwha Q Cells, which is preparing home solar power package products in the United States, and is also said to be discussing orders with 4 to 5 companies in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. In order to meet this volume, the conversion of the electric vehicle production line at the U.S. plant to an ESS line is being promoted.

In addition, LG Energy Solutions are carrying out more than five ESS-related research and development (R&D) projects including the development of home ESS batteries and continuously pursuing Technological innovations such as extending battery life, improving energy density, and enhancing safety.

Samsung SDI is also considering reducing the portion of electric vehicles and increasing the portion of ESS in LFP batteries to be produced from 2026. Mass production of LFP batteries is also planned to begin with ESS ahead of electric vehicles.

In addition, high-quality materials and cutting-edge safety technologies are being applied to enhance the safety of ESS. Reliability has been improved through fire prevention technology and battery management system (BMS).

SK On is considering entering the LFP ESS market in 2026. It is reported that the company is also considering establishing an ESS LFP factory in the United States.

In addition, providing ESS solutions linked to eco-friendly and renewable energy, SK On is emphasizing ESG management and actively targeting overseas markets through cooperation with global partners.

The ESS market in 2024 is expected to become more active due to increased demand, national policy support, peak shift, distributed energy resources, connection with electric vehicle charging stations, and Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology, etc.
.
The outlook for K-battery companies in the ESS market using these growth opportunities and environments is bright. This is believed to be because the company is building a strong position based on its technological prowess and global network, providing sustainable energy solutions, and further strengthening its competitiveness in the global market.


Ⅵ. ELECTRIC VEHICLE INDUSTRY TRENDS

1. Hyundai Mobis electrification sales exceed KRW 10 trillion …" Acceleration of global orders "

- Goal to lead the future mobility market
- Focus on securing core technologies such as electrification
- Promoting competitiveness through quality and safety

Hyundai Mobis plans to continue innovation and challenge to become a company that leads the new market in response to changes in the future mobility market. In particular, in line with future vision of being a 'mobility solution provider' that provides products and services optimized for a variety of customers, Hyundai Mobis plans to focus its company-wide capabilities on securing core technologies for future mobility this year as well.
To this end, Hyundai Mobis plans to secure differentiated competitiveness and future growth engines in high-value areas that will contribute to future growth and profit diversification, such as electrification, autonomous driving, and infotainment, etc.. And they plan to develop a No. 1 product line that will lead the market to secure leadership in the mobility ecosystem through selection and concentration strategies that streamline company-wide resources and research and development capabilities.
Hyundai Mobis has proven its global competitiveness in the electrification field by successfully winning battery system orders worth trillions of won from Volkswagen, a major global automaker, last year. Sales in the electrification business sector are increasing significantly every year, and related sales are reported to have exceeded 10 trillion won last year.
Hyundai Mobis plans to redefine quality and safety as another competitive in the process of innovating mobility technology and securing leadership. This is because convenient and safe use is more important than anything else in the user experience of future mobility, which is different from the present.
Hyundai Mobis plans to continuously expand global orders in the future to strengthen future growth and profitability simultaneously. It is evaluated that it has already secured its own know-how and competitiveness in the field of core vehicle components such as braking, steering, electronic suspension, airbags, and lamps, etc..
Hyundai Mobis said, "Technological competitiveness in the field of core components, where authentic mechanical engineering capabilities are concentrated, can be said to be key to future mobility such as electric vehicles." and " We plan to provide differentiated solutions that customers want by combining next-generation new technologies with our solid mobility components technology competitiveness. "

2. Korea, Increases in imports of electric vehicles

- Consumption revives once subsidy standards are confirmed
- Sales this year exceeded 13,000 units, double that of last year.
- Market share in the imported car market, from 6.6% to 18%.
- Tesla running... Immediately ranked 3rd in the imported car market BMW iX2,
- Maybach EQS SUV electric model, etc.
- Fierce competition expected as launches continue in the second half of the year

Imported electric vehicles are growing in the Korean market. As the Ministry of Environment finalized the national subsidy standards for electric vehicle purchases this year in February, frozen consumption is gradually reviving.

Sales status of imported car brands- until April this year
Brands Sales volume (unit) Share (%)
BMW 22,718 29.8
Mercedes-Benz 17,403 22.9
Tesla 7922 10.4
Volvo 4055 5.5
Lexus 3174 5.3
Porsche 2906 4.2
Mini 2885 3.8
Volkswagen 2030 2.7
Audi 1870 2.5
Source : Korean Automobile Importers & Distributors Association

According to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association, 8,242 imported electric vehicles were sold in the domestic market in March of this year, a 358.9% increase from March of last year (1,796 units). It also reflects that last year, the Ministry of Environment's electric vehicle subsidy was announced in January and many electric vehicle consumers who postponed purchasing bought a lot in February, but slowed down in March.

Sales of imported electric vehicles continued to be strong last month. Last month, imported electric vehicle sales amounted to 3,626 units, an increase of 94.3% compared to the same period a year ago (1,866 units). This is in contrast to the 42.5% decline in sales of gasoline vehicles, the mainstay of imported cars, during the same period.

Accordingly, the number of imported electric vehicles sold in the Korean market until last month this year exceeded 10,000 units, reaching 13,863 units, more than double the number in the same period a year ago (5,417 units). The electric vehicle market share in the imported car market also jumped significantly to 18.2% compared to the same period last year (6.6%).
○ Tesla ranks 3rd in imported car market
Tesla's Model Y sold 5,934 units in March alone, the month after the subsidy was confirmed, and immediately ranked first among not only electric vehicles but also all imported vehicle models. The Tesla Model 3, which was released after a facelift last month, ranked first among all imported vehicles, selling 1,716 units. Accordingly, the number of Tesla vehicles sold until last month this year is approaching 8,000, which is close to half of last year's total sales (16,461 units). There is a secret hidden in Tesla, but even excluding Tesla sales, sales of imported electric vehicles have increased compared to last year.

With such performance, Tesla, which only releases electric vehicles, took a leap to become one of the ‘Big 3’ imported cars until last month this year. During this period, BMW ranked first in imported car market share with 29.8%, and Mercedes-Benz ranked second with 22.9%. Tesla ranked third with a 10.4% market share. Traditionally, in the Korean imported car market, the ‘German Three’, commonly referred to as three German car companies, took first to third place, but now Tesla has surpassed Audi and entered the top three.

○ Flood of electric vehicle launches in the second half of the year
The launch of electric vehicles by imported car companies is also expected to continue. BMW Group Korea plans to release the iX2, an electric version of the X2, in the first half of the year. Based on European (WLTP) standards, the driving distance on a single charge is 417-449 km, and the 0-100 km/h (time from a standstill to 100 km/h) is 5.6 seconds.
BMW plans to expand its electric vehicle lineup with the launch of a partially modified model of its mid-size sedan i4. MINI's New Mini Countryman Electric and completely modified models of New Mini Electric are also planned to be released within the first half of the year.

Mercedes-Benz Korea will launch partially modified models of the compact electric sports utility vehicles (SUVs) EQA and EQB in the first half of the year, and the Maybach EQS SUV and G-Class electrification models in the second half of the year. The Maybach EQS SUV, Maybach's first electrified model, is said to have a dual motor system and deliver a maximum output of 484kW and a maximum torque of 950Nm.

Porsche Korea will launch the Macan Electric•Electric Turbo, the brand's second electric vehicle and first electric SUV, in the second half of this year. The Macan Electric and Electric Turbo have sports car-level driving performance with a maximum output of 408 horsepower and 639 horsepower and a 0-100 km/h time of 5.2 seconds and 3.3 seconds, respectively. The driving distance when fully charged is 613 km for the electric model and 591 km for the electric turbo model by European standards. Volvo Korea will ship the electric SUV EX30 in the first half of this year, and Polestar will bring the Polestar 4 to the Korean market in the summer.

Korean automakers are also releasing electric vehicles. Kia will begin selling the EV3, a compact SUV electric vehicle, at the end of this month, and Hyundai Motor Company plans to release the IONIQ 9, a large SUV, in the second half of the year. The IONIQ 9 was designed based on the concept car ‘Seven’ that Hyundai Motor Company unveiled at the LA Auto Show in the United States in November 2021.
 

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