SES AI, a US developer and manufacturer of high-performance lithium-metal batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and other applications, announced it has established a subsidiary company in South Korea to develop local market opportunities.

SES, headquartered in Boston, said it has just incorporated SES Korea – its second major operation outside the USA after SES Shanghai Giga. The company said it plans to build a pre-production facility in South Korea this year and expects to employ some 50 staff locally by the end of 2022.

SES said it is looking to strengthen its ties with important strategic partners such as Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, LG Corporation and other major industrial groups in the country.

The company said in a statement “South Korea has a strong battery supply chain and a deep talent pool. SES Korea and SES Shanghai Giga will focus on different aspects of supply chain development and different A-sample joint development with auto OEMs”.

SES founder and CEO Dr Qichao Hu said in a statement “it’s all about speed and winning the race. Momentum is building as additional auto OEMs want to establish arrangements for the joint development of A-sample batteries with SES. Having SES Boston, Shanghai Giga and now SES Korea gives us access to deep talent pools and the highly efficient ecosystems in South Korea and China – two industry powerhouses, as well as unparalleled chemistry and software capabilities in the United States”.

Dr Hu added “we also believe that the cash raised by our recent business combination with Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corporation and our listing on the New York Stock Exchange will help us accelerate these developments”.

SES said it has automotive A-sample joint development agreements with General Motors Company, Hyundai and Honda Motors and is backed by strategic investors including General Motors, Hyundai, Honda, Geely Auto, SAIC Motor, SK, Koch, Applied Materials, Tianqi Lithium HK Co. Ltd., Vertex Ventures Holdings, Temasek Holdings Limited and affiliates of LG and Foxconn Technology Group.

Last year the company unveiled its “Apollo” next-generation 107 amp/hour automotive lithium-metal battery, boasting an energy 417 watt-hour per kilogram – about 40% higher than the average lithium-ion battery currently used in EVs.

Lithium-metal batteries use metal instead of graphite, which helps increase energy density by around 30% compared with lithium-ion batteries. They generate more heat, however, increasing the risk of fire.

SES said it has reduced the risk of fire by applying enhanced coatings and its unique electrolyte.