Samsung announced Monday that it will acquire the "battery pack business" of Magna International, a major automotive supplier. The company said the purchase, "is expected to enhance Samsung SDI’s capabilities in batteries for electric vehicles by combining the company’s established leadership in battery cells and modules with Magna's expertise in battery packs."
Some of TMO's readers were among the first to predict Samsung would try to develop its own electric car in response to Apple. Rumors about an Apple Car have exploded in the last 10 days, and Samsung has a storied track record of copying Apple. Cue our editorial image above.
But—and that's a really big but—this purchase doesn't necessarily mean that Samsung is planning to make its own electric vehicle. For one thing, Samsung got into the car making business in the mid 1990s. In 2000, it sold a majority stake in that business to French giant Renault, but Samsung wouldn't so much be entering the market as extending its line to include electric cars.
In addition, electric car batteries are an exploding business, and that business is only going to get bigger as Apple brings more and more legitimacy and interest to the market. Samsung has a massive component business supplying others in all kinds of areas—in fact, Samsung supplies Apple a number of key components for the iPhone and iPad.
Accordingly, this purchase may simply be a move by Samsung to position itself as a key supplier of batteries to any and all comers.
To that end, Namseong Cho, President and CEO of Samsung SDI said, "The acquisition is a key strategic step for Samsung SDI to strengthen the competitiveness of our automotive battery business. It will provide new momentum to expand our business and customer base."
It's even conceivable that Apple could hire Samsung to make the batteries it will use in the Apple Car. Last week we learned that Apple had hired key engineers from battery maker A123 Systems. Even if Apple designs its own advanced battery technology, a third party like Samsung could be contracted to manufacture them.
But still, it's easy to see Samsung start making noise about its own car. So...LOL.