South Korean electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer SK On has agreed to build a cathode plant in Canada in partnership with Ford and South Korean cathode producer EcoPro BM to strengthen their EV battery supply chain in North America.

SK On, a company belonging to South Korean energy and chemicals chaebol SK Group, said the three partners would invest C$1.2bn (US$890m) to build a facility on a 278,000 sq m site in Becancour in Quebec province, subject to regulatory approval.

The project would receive C$644m in federal and provincial government support.

The announcement came after the three companies signed a letter of intent (LoI) to establish a cathode joint venture in July 2022. The plant would have production capacity of 45,000 tonnes of active cathode materials per year when operational in the first half of 2026. It was expected to provide a stable supply of core battery materials at competitive prices.

SK On last year established an EV battery manufacturing joint venture with Ford, called BlueOval SK, which was currently building two EV battery plants in the US. The company already supplies batteries for Ford’s Lightning electric pickup truck. It recently also established a separate joint venture with Hyundai Motor to build a battery plant in Georgia.

By 2025, SK On and its joint ventures are expected to have total capacity of 180GWh of batteries per year in the US alone, enough to power 1.7m EVs.

Chief commercial officer Min-suk Sung said at an event held in Becancour this week: “Through this cathode joint venture, the three companies can have a stable supply of battery raw materials in North America.”

Bev Goodman, CEO of Ford of Canada, said: “We’re investing in this new facility to create a vertically integrated, closed loop battery manufacturing supply chain in North America.” It was Ford’s first investment in Quebec.