The 40 years of SK Innovation’s battery development history ② Middle stage (1996 – 2005)


Last month, SKinno News published the first episode about the “Early stage (1982 – 1993)” of SK Innovation’s electric vehicle (EV) battery, which began 38 years ago.
SK Innovation has built up a solid history of batteries starting with the selection of “Energy accumulating battery system” as its future business to achieve Yukong’s(1) vision of becoming a “Total Energy Solution Provider” in 1982. This was followed by the success of developing an electric vehicle and batteries in 1993 that can run about 120 kilometers on a single charge.

(1) Yukong: in 1982, Korea Oil Corporation changed its name to Yukong after being acquired by Sunkyung Group


The history of SK Innovation’s electric battery is now approaching the 40th year. This time, let’s take a look at its Middle stage started from 1996 to 2005.




| Middle stage of SK Battery (1996 – 2005)




01 | Jun. 1996 – SK launched the rechargeable battery business



As introduced in the Early stage episode, in 1983 SK developed the batteries that could make cars run, followed by the success of the test running at 130 km/h. Then, a new challenge began. According to the press releases on June 24, 1996, SK is “seeking to participate in the rechargeable battery business.” Therefore, SK “has recently formed a new business development team under the policy of participating in the rechargeable battery project based on the magnetic coating technology accumulated in past businesses.”


The article also commented that since SK has secured magnetic coating technologies essential for the rechargeable battery business, it “will have easier access to the rechargeable battery business than other companies that need to introduce all technologies from foreign companies.”



02 | Nov. 1996 – LB (Lithium Battery) Technology Development Team won silver prize at PM competition held by the Central Research Institute


▲ Article about “LB Technology Development Team won Silver Prize” in Company Newsletter published in 1997


The Company Newsletter released in January 1997 shows that the “LB (Lithium Battery) Technology Development Team,” which conducted research and development under the theme of “Lithium Battery Cathode,” won the silver prize at the Patent Map (PM) contest held in the conference room of the Central Institute on November 18, 1996.



03 | Aug. 1998 – SK independently developed lithium-ion battery


▲ (Top) The high-capacity lithium-ion battery developed by SK in August 1998 /▲ (Bottom) An article about “SK’s independent development of lithium-ion battery” in the Company Newsletter released in September 1998


In August 1998, SK succeeded in independently developing its high-capacity lithium-ion battery, and related information can be found in the Company Newsletter released in September 1998. “SK has succeeded in developing lithium-ion batteries used in mobile phones, laptops, PCs, and camcorders with its own technology,” and “the core of lithium-ion battery manufacturing technology is coating and assembly technology, of which SK already has the world’s best technology accumulated through videotape manufacturing over 20 years.” The article was written with confidence in the technical skills of the company.



04 | Sep. 1998 – Company Newsletter introduced the LB (Lithium Battery) project team that had developed lithium-ion batterries


▲An article about the introduction of the “LB Project Team,” responsible for developing the lithium-ion batteries, released in the Newsletter in September 1998.


In September 1998, the Newsletter introduced the LB (Lithium Battery) Project Team, which was responsible for developing the lithium-ion batteries. The article says that SK formed a task force (TF) team to develop the lithium batteries in earnest in 1996. But SK has been interested in the lithium battery since early 1990s, when it was first developed worldwide. The article emphasizes that the main reason for SK’s interest in lithium battery is that coating technology is the core technology of rechargeable batterry.



05 | Dec. 2005 – SK announced full-fledged entry into the rechargeable battery business



A newspaper article released on December 1, 2005 reported that “SK acquired the rechargeable battery business from its affiliates to jump directly into the rechargeable battery business.” “SK decided to secure a stake of around 90% by investing KRW 60 billion in SK Mobile Energy (SKME), which was divided by the captive spinoff, through the method of capital increase through third party allocation”. In addition, “with the invested KRW 60 billion, [SK] plans to newly expand a lithium polymer facility with a scale of 2 million cells per month,” and “when the expansion is completed, SKME will have a production capacity of 3.75 million cells per month by next year (2006).”



Author | SKinno News