SK Battery will be holding a job fair on Nov. 14 at the Commerce Lanier Tech campus to hire 100-150 line operator for its first Commerce electric vehicle battery production.

SK spokes man Steven Jahng  told the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce last week that the firm expects the first batteries it will be producing for Volkswagen's plant in Chattoogna to roll off its lines in February or March of 2021. To make that initial production run, Jahng said the company plans to hire line workers this fall. The total workforce is expected to be 200-250 employees by the end of the year, he said.

Following that first run, the firm will test its batteries for 9-12 months before full production begins, Jahng said.

As the firm's first plant begins operations, construction of its second plant is ongoing. That plant, which will produce EV batteries for Ford F-150 trucks, is expected to start up around May 2022 with full production to begin a year later.

By the end of 2022, the company expects to have 2,000 employees on site and around 2,700 by 2024, Jahng said.

Once in full operation, the two Commerce plants will produce batteries for 310,000 vehicles per year.

The Commerce facilities are in addition to plants SK is currently building in Hungary and China. It operates a plant in Korea currently.

SK Innovation, the parent firm of SK Battery, has a long history in the energy sector, Jahng said, but is a newcomer to EV battery production.

"We are a later starter in this industry, but in due time you will realize that we do probably make the best product out there in relation to electric vehicle batteries," he said.

Meanwhile, SK Battery continues to await an ITC ruling slated for December in a lawsuit by a competition firm over allegations of intellectual theft. The outcome of that case could affect the Commerce plants.

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