Yoon Seok-yeol meets Musk! Renewed efforts to invite Tesla to build a factory in Korea

The President of Korea, Yoon Seok-yeol, who is visiting the U.S., met with Tesla CEO Musk on the same day during a press conference at the press center in Washington, D.C. on 26th.

During the meeting, Yoon Seok-yeol said that South Korea has the highest level of manufacturing robots and senior personnel, and is the country that can make Tesla's super battery factory achieve the most efficient operation. If Tesla decides to invest in Korea, the Korean side will provide active support in terms of site selection, manpower and taxation. Yoon Seok-yeol also handed over a brochure to Musk about attracting a super battery factory to the country.

In response, Musk said that Korea is one of the most interesting candidates to locate a super battery factory. He believes he will have the opportunity to visit Korea.

Yoon Seok-yeol also mentioned SpaceX, the U.S. company run by Musk. Yoon Seok-yeol said he hopes to expand cooperation with SpaceX to nurture the Korean space industry and expects Korean companies to participate in new innovations and challenges.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean government continues to enhance financial and administrative support for key industries such as semiconductors in a bid to boost economic growth. Last month, the South Korean government announced that it will focus on six key technology industries, including robotics, semiconductors, rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles, display devices and biotechnology.

On April 11, attending the groundbreaking ceremony for a dedicated electric vehicle factory at Kia Motors Park in Hwaseong City, Gyeonggi Province, Yoon Seok-yeol said that he aims to increase Korea's electric vehicle production capacity to five times the current level by 2030 and develop Korea into one of the three future automotive powerhouses.

It is worth noting that South Korea has a pivotal position in the field of power battery, the core component of electric vehicles. South Korean market research firm SNE Research data show that in 2022, the top 10 global power battery companies, Korean battery manufacturers occupy three seats, respectively, LG New Energy, SK On and Samsung SDI, their combined sales and shipments market share of 22.9% and 26.5%, respectively.

However, while Yoon Seok-yeol is pulling Musk to invest in Korea, General Motors and LG Energy Solutions are currently investing $2.6 billion in Michigan to build the two companies' third battery plant in the U.S., which is scheduled to go into operation in 2024. The new plant built by GM and Samsung SDI is expected to cost more than GM and LG's Michigan battery plant, but no immediate announcement will be made on where the plant will land, according to a source at Samsung SDI.

"GM and LG Energy Solutions have agreed to build three battery joint venture plants in the U.S. We may also build more than one battery joint venture plant with GM in the U.S. to better meet GM's electric vehicle battery needs and electrification goals." According to a source within Samsung, the source said to foreign media. GM and Samsung SDI are considering establishing multiple battery joint venture plants in North America, the sources added.

Last August, the joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solutions announced it was considering a fourth U.S. battery plant in New Carlisle, Indiana (New Carlisle). In January, news broke that GM and LG Energy would not move forward with plans to build this fourth plant. But at the time, foreign media reported that GM could still build a battery plant in New Carlisle with a new partner.

According to sources cited by Korean media, GM and Samsung SDI have entered the final stage of negotiations in March to determine the details of the agreement, such as the battery plant's output, investment method and plant location. The two sides are expected to start building the joint plant by the end of this year and start producing prismatic and cylindrical battery cells in 2026.

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John Murphy

John Murphy is the founder of TOPCARS Tesla Aftermarket Accessories, as well as an investor in Tesla and owner of the Model Y. He posts about Tesla news while running the site on a daily basis.

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