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(Yonhap Interview) SK Signet betting on 'hockey stick' growth in U.S. with world's fastest EV charging

10:00 February 26, 2023

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) -- The rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States is a boon unseen before for related industries, and SK Signet Inc. is at full throttle to seize on the momentum with its advanced charging technology, its CEO has said.

The unit under South Korea's energy-to-telecom conglomerate SK Group has mainly supplied its products to EV charging station operators, like Electrify America and EVgo, in the U.S. market.

SK Signet is stepping up to solidify its presence in America as the No. 1 player and expand its foothold in Europe with the planned release of its most up-to-date 400-kilowatt ultrafast V2 chargers set for June.

"The U.S. market has always been our primary focus, given the size and rapid growth. South Korea and Europe are next, and we're approaching Asia and Japan selectively by project," Shin Jung-ho, chief of the South Korean EV charger manufacturer, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Friday.

With more electrified car models on the way, the EV charging industry is experiencing very rapid changes, with the demand for faster charging with a higher power output expected to surge as the capacity of EV batteries is getting bigger and bigger, Shin said.

"We believe we are at an inflection point where the ultrafast EV charging market is really starting to take off," he said. "We expect the demand will grow like a hockey stick, especially starting next year."

SK Signet Inc. CEO Shin Jung-ho poses in this photo provided by the company on Feb. 24, 2023. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The V2 charger is designed to power an EV from 20 percent to 80 percent in 15 minutes, the fastest charging speed offered by an EV charging company to date. The local release in South Korea is set for the second half.

Shin revealed that it recently signed a new supply contract with TeraWatt Infrastructure, a U.S. unicorn startup that develops EV charging centers for commercial fleets like long-haul trucks, a new partnership that he hopes will further expand in the long term.

TeraWatt, a San Francisco company co-founded by former Google energy head Neha Palmer, took the industry by storm last year by pooling more than US$1 billion from investors for its build-out of EV charging systems across America.

It has launched a project to build EV charging hubs along a major U.S. interstate.

"The partnership with companies like TeraWatt is meaningful as it opens the possibility for further collaborations in the megawatt-based charging system for heavy-duty EVs," Shin said.

SK Signet recently made itself known after the White House mentioned the company in a factsheet earlier this month as one of the foreign firms engaged in the U.S. manufacturing of EVs and related infrastructure.

SK Signet's first U.S. plant, located in Texas, is set to go into commercial operation in June. It will manufacture about 10,000 units a year at the start, before expanding the run rate by another 10,000 by 2025.

With its main domestic factory in Yeonggwang, a coastal city about 260 kilometers southwest of Seoul, SK Signet aims to ramp up the annual production capacity to 50,000 units altogether over the next three years.

"We won't be able to handle the surging demand in the next year or so," Shin said, adding that facility expansion could take place in other locations than Yeonggwang depending on the circumstances.

This photo, provided by SK Signet Inc. on Feb. 24, 2023, shows its ultrafast electric vehicle charger V2, set to be released later this year, starting in the United States and Europe in June, and South Korea in the second half. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

SK Signet is targeting a top line of over 1 trillion won (US$759 million) by 2025, Shin said, about a sixfold increase compared with 160 billion won logged for 2022.

Since its European offices in Germany and England set sail, SK Signet is setting its eyes on Italy and other neighboring countries to make further inroads in the region. It recently bagged its first order worth 7.3 million euros ($7.8 million) from an unidentified British company.

The global EV charging market is forecast to grow to $417.3 billion by 2030, compared with $46.5 billion in 2022, SK Signet said, citing a study by market tracker Precedence Research.

The growth in the U.S. market is expected to increase 23 percent to $1.99 billion this year from last year and nearly double to $3.15 billion in 2025, backed by NEVI, or the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program under way to create a nationwide EV charging network.



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