SEOUL Feb 8 Hyundai Motor said on
Wednesday it may procure electric vehicle batteries from Chinese
companies for a planned China model after South Korean battery
makers failed to make a list of approved vendors last year.
The decision comes at a time of growing concern in South
Korea that Beijing may be retaliating over Seoul's decision to
deploy a U.S. anti-missile system. China argues the defence
system could undermine its security.
Hyundai Motor said it was now considering a Chinese battery
for a plug-in hybrid version of its Sonata sedan to be sold in
"Considering various factors in Chinese market and price
competitiveness, Hyundai Motor Company is also looking at
cooperation with Chinese battery suppliers," the company said in
a statement to Reuters.
It declined to comment on reports that its decision was due
to tension with Beijing over the U.S. Terminal High Altitude
Area Defence (THAAD) system.
The news came on the same day that South Korea's Lotte Group
said Chinese authorities have halted construction at a
multi-billion dollar real estate project in the northeastern
city of Shenyang after a fire inspection - a move that has also
fueled concerns about retaliation.
Beijing last year declined to award certification to LG Chem
Ltd and Samsung SDI Co Ltd, both among
the world's largest players, potentially excluding them from
state subsidies and eroding their price competitiveness.
"As a company which has to sell vehicles in China, we have
no choice but to consider a China battery maker under the
current conditions," said a Hyundai source, who was not
authorised to speak to the media and declined to be identified.
The current Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, sold in South Korea and
the United States, uses a battery made by South Korea's LG Chem
Hyundai also said it now plans to launch the Sonata Plug-In
Hybrid in China in 2018, a year later than previously planned,
without elaborating on the reason for the delay.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Tony Munroe and Edwina