The spat between the two South Korean corporate giants could have ripple effects for U.S. automakers gearing up to produce electric vehicles. It also puts Biden himself in the hot seat since he has to decide whether to let the ITC’s decision move forward.
The agency’s decision would prevent SK Innovation from importing certain lithium-ion batteries and other components for the next 10 years, with a few exceptions. The limitations would make it very difficult for the company to get the parts it needs to manufacture batteries in the United States.
Ford spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said the exemption “supports our plans to bring the all-electric Ford F-150 to market in mid-2022.” Making an electric version of the bestselling truck is ”a top priority for the company,” she added.
Volkswagen did not respond to a request for comment. The order also allows for the repair or replacement of batteries for Kia vehicles already on the road. The commission issued a 96-page nonpublic opinion that the companies involved were scrutinizing.
In a statement, Jong Hyun Kim, the chief executive of LG Chem’s energy division, said the company was grateful for the ITC’s decision. “SKI’s total disregard of our warnings and intellectual property rights gave us no choice but to file this case.”
The firm is sinking about $2.6 billion into a massive plant in a rural Georgia, making for the largest foreign investment in the state’s history and expected to employ 2,600 people when completed.
The ruling comes as Biden prepares to jump-start the domestic EV industry to confront climate change.
The president campaigned on juicing the market for electric cars by helping Americans buy more of them. Congressional Democrats are preparing to try to pass into law a new rebate for electric vehicle buyers later this year — a linchpin of Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan.
In response to those changing political winds in Washington, General Motors and other major automakers have announced plans to move away from producing cars with internal-combustion engines to ones running solely on electricity.