South Korea's LG Chem and its U.S.-based subsidiary Compact Power Inc. are increasingly looking like the leaders in the automotive lithium ion battery supply race. Ford has become the latest automaker to select LG Chem and its lithium polymer batteries for its upcoming Ford Focus Electric.
LG Chem is also supplying its lithium polymer cells for the battery pack in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata hybrid. The Focus Electric will be based on the all-new 2012 Focus that goes on sale in early 2011. Ford has developed the new global Focus platform to support conventional internal combustion, hybrid-electric and full battery electric powertrains.
Magna International is partnering with Ford on the electric drive integration for the Focus. When production of the Focus Electric begins in 2011, the initial supply of cells will be shipped from South Korea to a Michigan facility operated by Compact Power for installation into a battery pack with liquid cooling.
The LG Chem lithium polymer cells are a large format flat rectangular design specifically developed for automotive use. The cells contain a polymer gel electrolyte that makes them more resistant to the thermal runaway associated with some older lithium ion batteries used in laptop computers.
The Focus Electric will be built alongside the conventional models at Ford's Wayne Assembly Plant in Michigan. LG Chem has already announced that it will build a lithium polymer cell manufacturing plant in Holland, MI that will start production in 2012.
Before the Focus Electric debuts next year, Ford will launch the Transit Connect Electric compact van later this year. In 2012, Ford will debut its next generation hybrid system that will also be available as a plug-in hybrid.