Hyundai Group and LG Chem launch EV & Battery Challenge

Jonathon Ramsey

The chairmen of Hyundai Motor Group and LG Chem sat down recently to explore ideas for collaboration that include a joint venture in Indonesia to produce electric vehicle batteries. One early result of their efforts is the EV & Battery Challenge, a global competition seeking startups with working technologies that will add value to battery development and production, and enhance customer's total EV ownership experience. Broken into two categories of innovation, the contest is looking for battery tech in the areas of management and maintenance, materials, reuse and recycling, and manufacturing and quality control. For electric vehicles, startups with innovations in the EV business model, charging, components, fleet management, and customer service are encouraged to apply.

LG held a similar event last year open to new inventions specifically for batteries. Nearly 130 applicants applied from 27 countries. After a Battery Challenge Pitch Day at the LG Magok Science Park in South Korea, the company chose five finalists who received up to $2 million in funding through formal partnership with the conglomerate. LG said it didn't walk away from the 124 candidates not chosen, "continuing to work closely [with them] and offer support in terms of technological evaluation and future investment."   

The EV & Battery Challenge dangles the same prizes — financial support and the chance to work in Hyundai and LG facilities with their tools, engineers, and knowledge. 

Applicants need to have a non-commercialized working prototype clearly different from what's currently on the market, "strong expertise in the battery and mobility sector," and "a business model based on credible commercial and economic assumptions."

The challenge is open from now until August 28. Hyundai and LG will review applications in September, then hold video interviews with a winnowed group in October and November. In November, finalists will be invited to a two-day workshop at Hyundai's CRADLE hub in Silicon Valley, where the automaker bases its innovation initiatives in the U.S. 

New Energy Nexus, "an international non-profit that supports clean energy entrepreneurs with funds, accelerators, and networks," is overseeing the EV & Battery Challenge. The potential reward for LG is finding a mythical piece of battery tech to counter the million-mile packs supposedly on the verge of release from China's CATL or U.S. automaker Tesla, and fellow South Korean firm Samsung's future solid state batteries. Hyundai will be looking for solutions to help differentiate and promote the 44 electrified vehicles it plans to launch by 2025, 23 of them to be pure electric offerings.

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