Hyundai, sibling brand Kia, and battery maker LG Chem are launching a competition for battery-tech startups.
The "EV & Battery Challenge" will select up to 10 battery startups for "potential investment and collaboration," Hyundai said in a press release Monday.
Those startups will work with Hyundai, Kia, and LG Chem on "proof of concept projects" showcasing their technologies, Hyundai said.
Hyundai has been a longtime partner of LG Chem and has used the cells in many of its products, although many Kia products use SK innovation cells.
Startups will be able to leverage the resources of the automakers and battery maker to develop their technology, while Hyundai, Kia, and LG Chem will get early access to any technologies they may want to commercialize.
The companies are looking for startups working in the following areas: "EV charging and fleet management, power electronics and components, personalization services, and battery management, systems, materials, recycling, and manufacturing," according to the press release. Startups can apply online from June 22 to August 28.
2020 Kia Niro EV
Applicants must pass a review of business feasibility, followed by virtual interviews in October. Finalists will go on to a two-day workshop at Hyundai's Silicon Valley tech hub in November.
Hyundai and Kia have already teamed with Croatian tech firm and supercar maker Rimac for development work with power systems and special projects.
Partnerships like this could help Hyundai-Kia and LG Chem keep pace with rivals looking to squeeze greater performance out of EV batteries—and to keep a tighter hold on a battery ecosystem that is being controlled to some degree by separate cell makers.
One South Korean rival, Samsung, has teased that it plans to double battery energy density with solid-state cells. And China's CATL recently said that it has a million-mile, 16-year battery on offer to automakers—different than the Tesla battery that reportedly meets comparable specs.
EVs are already controversial from a labor standpoint, as they take core powertrain elements that have been assembled and overseen directly by automakers and place them under supplier oversight—which has led to some very different relationships between automakers, unions, and the batteries that go into EVs, depending on the country.