MADISON, Wis. — The buildup of a polluted miasma choking many Chinese cities is real, and it begs for real solutions.
In response to its air pollution crisis, China's State Council in 2012 set a target of having 500,000 plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015, and 5 million by 2020. However, given the reality that only 27,800 EVs were on the road by the end of 2012, 80 percent of them buses, this goal begins to look like one of the Chinese government's empty promises.
The antidote to this suspicion is that Beijing is throwing real money at R&D projects focused on alternative-energy vehicles — as much as RMB 100 billion ($15 billion). Numbers like this tend to get noticed in the high-tech industry.
Sure enough, Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. announced Thursday, January 23 that it has signed a preliminary agreement to build an electric car battery factory in China by next year.
Implicit in the deal is the South Korean company's anticipation of an EV boom in a market backed by government subsidies.
Samsung SDI, an affiliate of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd., will form a joint venture in China by April. It's investing $600 million in the factory in Shaanxi province, and in other electric car battery-related businesses over the next five years, according to the company. Samsung SDI makes both smartphone batteries and TV displays.
Samsung SDI will break ground for the factory later this year in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, where Samsung Electronics is already building a multi-billion dollar fab for NAND flash memory chips. The NAND flash fab is expected to start operations this year.
The South Korean company isn't alone in betting big on China's yet-to-materialize EV market. In hopes of leveraging Beijing's strong support for EVs, NXP Semiconductors N.V. in early December formed a joint venture called Datang NXP Semiconductors Co. Ltd., with China's state-owned Datang Telecom Technology Co.
NXP calls the joint venture "China's first true, dedicated automotive chip company," with a mission to develop automotive chips for China's domestic hybrid and electric car market.
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