South Korea's SK Innovation said Sunday it aims to develop a powerful electric car battery that would enable vehicles to travel 500 kilometers on a single charge by 2020.
The energy and chemical business arm of SK Group said it will cope with current business trouble in China through its technological prowess and investment for future market demand.
SK halted operation of its battery packing plant in China in February as its business suffered in the face of Beijing's move to stop a subsidy to electric vehicle (EV) makers that use parts from non-Chinese manufacturers.
"We've decided to tide over the difficulties arising from business suspension in China with the development of battery charging technology for long-distance EV driving and large-scale investment to prepare for the future market," an official from SK Innovation said.
Its current technology allows electric cars to cover up to 350 kilometers on a single charge. The company will invest in upgrading the energy density of the battery to increase the capacity to 500 kilometers, the threshold for allowing electric cars to compete with conventional cars.
SK Innovation's joint venture with two Chinese firms suffered from falling orders starting in the fourth quarter of last year after the Chinese government introduced a verification system for companies that produce electric car batteries.
The SK plant, which packed battery cells, was not subject to the system as it did not produce battery cells. Still, many Chinese electric car firms feared they might lose state subsidies by neglecting the new regulation.
Other Korean car battery firms also reduced operations as Chinese partners discontinued business deals after they failed to receive the certification.
Their business jitters also came as China has been escalating its apparent retaliation against South Korean companies for the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in the country.
China has strongly opposed the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which it claims would hurt its strategic interests. (Yonhap)