Korean battery exports fall 1.6%, first drop in eight years

채사라 2024. 2. 5. 15:08
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Korea’s battery exports fell for the first time since 2015 amid slowing EV growth globally.
Visitors to the InterBattery 2023 look at Samsung SDI's mockup of solid-state battery at Coex, southern Seoul. [YONHAP]

Korea’s battery exports fell for the first time in eight years amid slowing EV growth globally.

Secondary battery exports came in at $9.8 billion in 2023, down 1.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Infrastructure. It’s the first time since 2015 that Korea exported fewer battery products compared to the previous year.

Poor exports continue in the new year. Battery exports stood at $590 million in January, down 26.2 percent on-year.

It comes as 13 out of 15 key products saw exports grow last month including semiconductors and automobiles. Exports of wireless communication devices fell 14.2 percent on year.

The Trade Ministry attributed the slowdown to "declining prices of raw materials and global automakers' delay and reduced EV production plan."

It also said battery makers are increasing operations overseas, dragging down exports.

Korea's top three battery makers — LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI, and SK On — have added factories in North America and Europe to directly deliver batteries to their foreign clients.

Ultium Cells, a joint battery venture between LG Energy Solution and General Motors, has been operating its Ohio plant since the end of 2022 with around 45 gigawatt hours of capacity.

Korea's exports to the European Union plunged 25.1 percent on-year in 2023.

Eco-friendly sales have also slowed. Around 12.8 million units were estimated to have sold in 2023, up 80 percent on-year. That's up from 6.5 million units sold in 2022, but a big decrease compared to 116 percent on-year growth in 2021.

EV inventories on U.S. dealer lots reached a new high in December, with a 114-day supply that was more than double what it was a year ago, according to market tracker Cox Automotive.

Korean battery makers have continued to see shares slip. Korea's top three battery firms held 48.5 percent of the world's battery market last year through the end of November, down from 53.9 percent during the same period the previous year, according to data from SNE Research.

Chinese battery maker CATL's shares were at 27.7 percent, up from 22.1 percent during the same period the previous year.

"Korean battery makers must try to retain their market share by stable secure of raw materials," Chang Sang-sik, head of analysis at the Korea International Trade Association, said. "They should also diversify their battery products lineup and invest in next-generation batteries."

BY SARAH CHEA [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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