A federal trade commission ruled against battery maker SK Innovation Co. in a case that could disrupt Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG’s plans to build electric vehicles in the U.S.
The U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent government agency, affirmed Wednesday a judge’s earlier ruling in favor of rival LG Chem, which in 2019 accused SKI of stealing trade secrets related to lithium-ion battery production. SK Innovation has denied the allegations.
The commission’s ruling threatens two new battery plants SKI is building in Georgia to supply Ford and VW with batteries for models set to go into production in the next two years. The Korean company has said it is investing $2.6 billion on the project.
The ruling also complicates efforts by the Biden administration to supercharge domestic battery and electric vehicle construction. Wednesday’s ruling starts the clock on a 60-day review period for the White House. Changes to the commission’s rulings are rare but not without precedent.
If the White House declines to intervene, then SKI can appeal the matter in federal court. Construction on the site will proceed, a company spokesman said.