EV demand slowdown cuts S Korea’s LGES' profit in 1Q

  • Market: Battery materials, Metals
  • 25/04/24

South Korea's top battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution (LGES) reported significant lower revenue and profit in January-March, because of lower battery metal prices and slower electric vehicle (EV) demand.

LGES' revenue in January-March fell by 23pc on the quarter and 30pc on the year to 6.13 trillion won ($4.46bn), owing to lower demand for EV pouch cells and energy storage system (ESS), with "prolonged metal price impact" affecting its average selling price.

The firm reported W157bn of operating profit in January-March, but would have reported an operating loss of W32bn if it did not receive almost W189bn in US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credits. But this was still a sharp drop from W633bn of operating profit for January-March 2023. The lower revenue and a demand slowdown in the EV market led to utilisation rate adjustments that weighed on its financial performance.

The firm reaped a net profit of W212bn during the quarter, which was up by 12pc on the quarter but down by around 62pc on the year, likely significantly propped up by the US' IRA tax credits. LGES said it will continue to invest despite the difficult market environment, but will "adjust" the size of its capital expenditure and execution speed "as per priority".

Battery project updates

LGES and automaker General Motors in early April completed the first battery shipment out of their second Ultium battery cell factory in US' Tennessee. The plant's capacity is expected to gradually expand to 50 GWh/yr, said LGES.

Construction progress at the firm's battery manufacturing complex in US' Arizona is also on track, said the firm. Ramped up capacity is expected to be 53 GWh/yr, which will comprise 36 GWh/yr of 46-series cylindrical battery for EVs and 17 GWh/yr of lithium-iron-phosphate battery for ESS.

LGES' 10 GWh/yr Indonesian battery production joint venture with South Korean conglomerate Hyundai Motor has also started mass production.

Its battery module production joint venture with automaker Stellantis in US' Ontario, which encountered a halt in construction in May last year, will start operations in the second half of 2024. The factory has a planned capacity of 45GWh/yr and was supposed to begin operations early this year.

LGES earlier this year inked a second agreement with Australian firm Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers for lithium concentrate supply. The firm will continue building a raw materials supply chain within regions that have a free trade agreement with US, it said.


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