U.S. will review impact of SK Innovation ruling on Biden green transportation goals

The U.S. Transportation Department will analyze the impact of an electric vehicle battery trade ruling against SK Innovation Co Ltd on President Joe Biden’s green transportation goals, the nominee for the department’s No. 2 position said.

Deputy Transportation secretary nominee Polly Trottenberg said at a hearing the department would analyze the International Trade Commission’s Feb. 10 ruling siding with LG Chem Ltd that accused SK of misappropriating trade secrets related to EV battery technology.

U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock said the ruling “seriously threatens” the viability of SK Innovation’s $2.6 billion Georgia plant with 2,600 planned workers, currently under construction.

The Georgia Democrat called the ruling “a severe punch in the gut” for Georgia workers and Biden’s push for electric vehicles.

Biden has 60 days to reject or allow the ruling to stand.

SK Innovation told the White House on Feb. 23 Biden’s disapproval “is necessary to support the administration’s policy on tackling the climate crisis.”

The ITC issued a limited 10-year exclusion order prohibiting U.S. imports of some lithium-ion batteries by SK Innovation, but permitted SK to import components for domestic production of lithium ion batteries and other parts for Ford Motor Co’s EV F-150 program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America’s MEB electric vehicle line for the North American region for two years.

Biden has vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean energy.

SK Innovation said in its presentation to the White House the ruling would force it to shut its Georgia plant, resulting in the loss of nearly 50% of the “country’s non-captive EV production capacity.”

SK plans to invest $5 billion by 2025 in the plant and have 6,000 workers. SK said the carve-out periods “do not provide a solution.”