Korean government pushes through strict car fuel economy target

2015_01_fuel economyThe Ministry of Economy Tuesday announced its plan to raise the fuel economy target for passenger vehicles to 24.3km/l and the greenhouse gas target to 97g/km by 2020. The new standards will take effect gradually from next year. However, car manufacturers protest the plan, saying the ministry ignores industry opinions and the target is simply unrealizable.

The car industry has requested re-examination of the plan since the ministry announced a proposal last September, but the government pushed through the original proposal. Under the plan, the government will force 10 percent of cars to meet the target next year and raise the level to 20 percent the following year and to 30 percent thereafter and finally to 100 percent by 2020. Violations will lead to a penalty.

According to the plan, the government’s target of 24.3km/l in terms of fuel economy and 97g/km in terms of greenhouse gas was maintained at the original level despite opposition from carmakers, while the calculation method for car sales was partially adjusted.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Scientists develop fast recharging material for lithium-ion batteries

A group of South Korean scientists has developed a new material for a secondary or rechargeable battery that can be fully recharged in just a matter of minutes, the science ministry said Monday. The development of such a battery could significantly raise the popularity of electric vehicles whose lithium-ion batteries currently take hours to recharge, according to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Conventional batteries use only powdered nanoparticle materials to form a dense, multi-layered structure that can store and give off energy. The new battery, on the other hand, uses the same type of nanoparticle materials that are first resolved in a solution that contains graphite, which later is carbonized to form a dense network of conductors all throughout the electrodes of the battery, the ministry said.

As a result, all energy-holding particles of the new battery start recharging simultaneously while the same particles in conventional batteries begin recharging in order from the outermost particles to the innermost.

For full article see Yonhap News.

Kia and SK Innovation team up in EV development

South Korean carmaker Kia Motors and energy company SK Innovation are poised to cooperate on development and marketing of electric vehicles (EV).

Kia and SK Innovation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for joint development and marketing of EVs in Seoul Wednesday.

Kia and SK are set to launch joint promotion activities for marketing of EVs and strengthen brand competitiveness and technological capacities through the collaboration.

Through the joint effort, Kia and SK Innovation will be able to take advantage of their expertise, generate a synergy effect and consequently accelerate commercialization of EVs.

For full article see Maeil Business.

Korea and Bolivia set up joint lithium development venture

South Korea’s state-run mineral development corporation set up a joint venture with its Bolivian counterpart to develop lithium in the South American country, sources said Friday.

Seoul’s embassy in La Paz said a consortium made up of Korea Resources Corp. (KORES) and POSCO, South Korea’s leading steelmaker, signed a deal to create a lithium venture with Comibol, Bolivia’s mineral development corporation.

Under the agreement reached Thursday, the new company will make anodes and cathodes for electric vehicles that will run on rechargeable batteries made from lithium found in Bolivia.

The country’s lithium deposit is estimated to stand at around 5.4 million tons, or half of all known reserves in the world.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Korea’s large conglomerates eye rechargeable battery material market

South Korea’s large conglomerates such as SK, LG, POSCO, GS, and Hanwha are rushing to penetrate into the rechargeable battery material market as it has been perceived as a future growth engine. Accordingly, competition is inevitable among the newly-entering companies and those currently dominating the market such as Japan-based and other foreign companies as well as Korea’s mid-size rechargeable battery material manufacturers.

Rechargeable, or secondary batteries, are next-generation batteries which can be used in many sectors including mobile phones, laptop computers, small-size household electronics, electric vehicles, and power storage systems. The rechargeable battery market, which is currently worth 14 trillion won ($12.33 billion), is projected to rapidly grow into 65 trillion won by 2020.

The four major materials used to manufacture secondary batteries include anodes, cathodes, separators, and electrolytes. The four materials account for over 70 percent of the total manufacturing costs of rechargeable batteries.

For full article see Maeil Business.

HHI branches out into electric car battery and lubricant base oil business

South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has jumped into the electric car battery market, a high-potential next generation sector currently being dominated by LG Chemical, Samsung SDI, and SK Innovation. Meanwhile, HHI’s affiliate and oil refiner Hyundai Oilbank will be expanding into the lubricant base oil market, which will spark a four-way competition in the electric battery and lubricant base oil markets.

Earlier this month on April 2, HHI established a joint venture with Canadian electric car parts supplier Magna E-Car. The joint production plant is located in Ontario, Canada which will start churning out electric car batteries from 2014. HHI invested $800 billion in the venture, while Magna E-Car supplied the larger chunk of investments at $120 million. The Ontario plant is currently test-producing electric car battery models developed using Magna’s battery cell technology.

HHI’s sudden interest in electric batteries can be explained by the sector’s high potential. The electric battery market was relatively small at $3.0 billion last year, but is expected to cross $30 billion by 2020. HHI plans to play catch up to LG Chemical, the leading producer of electric car batteries in Korea at the moment.

“We will build eight global production plants by 2020 including bases in North America and Europe, and raise electric car battery output to 0.80 million packs. Our goal is to clinch a 30 percent share of the North American and European markets,” said HHI.

For full article see Maeil Business.

GS chairman pins hopes on smart grids

GS Group chairman Huh Chang-soo on Friday stressed smart grids as key to the future growth and climate efforts of Korea’s fifth-largest industrial group.

Huh called on company officials to develop new technologies and boost commercialization capabilities for the conglomerate’s signature energy business during his tour to smart grid test-bed facilities on Jeju Island.

The nascent technology enables transferring electricity loads to off-peak hours via a two-way, real-time communication between power suppliers and consumers.

“We need to transition to a low energy consumption society through rational and efficient power use,” he was quoted as telling officials from GS Caltex Corp. and GS Engineering & Construction. 

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Global race for ‘rare earths’, Korea making little headway

Global tension over rare earth metals — often identified as rare earths — has intensified as the United States, European Union and Japan recently teamed up and took it up a notch in pressuring China over persistent trade disputes.

Last month, the trading power players filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization challenging the world’s largest rare earths supplier to remove its export restrictions on the scarce elements used in high-tech goods.

As China continues to tighten its export policy, Korea, a resource-poor country with strong demand for rare earth metals for its high-tech manufacturing, is attempting to stay the course with its biggest trading partner while at the same time, catching up with other nations in the search for alternative reserves.

Korea has been slow in securing the resources, since it’s been importing semi-processed materials rather than raw supplies. Currently, 80 percent of the imports come from China, and the rest from France and Japan.

For full article see Korea Times.

Hyundai Heavy to create electric car battery

Hyundai Heavy Industries is venturing into the lithium-ion battery market for electric cars, hoping to bask in the soaring demand for long-range, environmentally friendly next-generation vehicles.

The world’s largest shipyard said it clinched an agreement Monday with Canadian auto parts maker Magna E-Car Systems to launch a $200 million joint venture. The Korean company would take a 40 percent stake and the Ontario-based firm the remainder.

Magna E-Car is another partnership between Magna International Inc. and the Stronach Group, a private company owned by Frank Stronach, who founded North America’s top car parts supplier. Magna E-Car supplies the powertrain to Ford Motor Co. for the plug-in version of its Ford Focus.

Under the plan, Hyundai Heavy and Magna E-Car will carry out joint research and set up a production line in the Canadian province, aiming to churn out 1,000 battery packs annually starting 2014.

The shipbuilder added it will further boost its output to 400,000 by 2018 and 800,000 by 2020 by building an additional eight plants in Europe and North America. It targets a 30 percent share in the electric car market in the regions by 2020.

For full article see Korea Herald

Korea auto, IT industries to pull off strong growth in Q2

Korea’s automobile and information technology (IT) industries are expected to enjoy strong growth in the second quarter of this year, underpinned by growing overseas demand, a report showed Sunday.

The country’s shipbuilding, construction and pharmaceutical industries, however, are bracing for deteriorating business conditions triggered by sluggish overseas orders and a weak domestic property market, according to the report by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Exports of South Korean cars are forecast to grow in the three-month period fueled by free trade agreements (FTA) with advanced industrialized economies, a lower excise tax on mid-size vehicles and the release of new models.

The KCCI also said the popularity of smartphones, tablet PCs and organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) made by local companies will buoy the IT sector. The Summer Olympics in London in July could also stimulate the global digital electronics market.

For full article see Korea Times.