Korean manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries may be overtaking their Japanese rivals in terms of output, but they are still far behind in patents and research and development.
According to data from the Smart Battery-Cell Forum last year, Korean battery makers won 463 patents from the U.S. Patent Office, ranking third in the world. Top-ranked Japan registered 2,206, accounting for two-thirds of all lithium-ion battery patents registered there. U.S. manufacturers came in second with 679.
Much more needs to be done in terms of localizing production of components. The Korea Electronics Technology Institute said that only 60 percent of the parts for mid-sized to small batteries are produced in Korea. The situation is worse for lithium car batteries, which is expected to become a huge market, where only 30 percent of the parts are made here.
Korean makers rely on Japan for 100 percent of the carbon cathode material, which despite accounting for just 10 percent of the cost of the batteries, is crucial in making them.