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South Korean battery major LG has complained about the discipline of its workers at a battery plant in Europe that the company says is interfering with plans to boost production speed and quality.
“The ownership of workers in Poland, a European country, is not as high as that of Korean employees at factories,” Youngjoon Shin, LG’s chief technology officer, said at the Korea Investment Week conference, as quoted by Bloomberg. “They are not good at handling something that we didn’t give instructions for.”
“We think plants should be run by programs, not by humans,” Shin also said.
Bloomberg reports that the Polish factory of LG is the largest battery factory in Europe, with the capacity to produce 1.2 million EV batteries every year, or 70 GWh. LG plans to increase this to 100 GWh by 2025.
Currently, there are 7,000 people working at the facility with LG planning to hire another 1,000 by 2026.
Batteries are the most important component for electric vehicles: they represent the biggest portion of an EV’s mass but also of its price, which has sparked a race to make better, lighter, and cheaper batteries.
It is a considerable conundrum, especially for Europe, which has no local supply of the metals used in the production of batteries and, until recently, had no battery production capacity at home, either.
The LG factory has changed the latter, but the former remains a challenge. China is the undisputed leader in global battery raw materials, if not in sourcing, in processing. This means that all EV revolution hopefuls must pin their hopes of uninterrupted supply from China.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has argued in favor of what the White House calls friend-shoring: building entirely new supply chains with friendly jurisdictions to secure the supply of EV-critical materials.
That supply chain building will take years, however, and transition-eager governments have no time to wait, with EV sales getting effectively mandated in the EU, Britain, and California via ICE car bans set to come into effect by 2035.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com