LG -- the South Korean conglomerate known for cell phones, TVs, memory chips and upscale appliances -- will invest $18 billion between now and 2020 to develop environmentally friendly products and reduce its emissions by 40 percent.
Technically, LG is already in the green market. It started producing solar cells earlier this year and will open another factory next year. But the company's recently increased investment levels signify a larger interest in the market, and you can expect LG to pursue it vigorously. Like arch-rival Samsung, LG was a second-tier electronics manufacturer in the mid-90s. Then it began to invest heavily in product marketing and industrial design. Now, LG is considered an upscale brand. It was a turnaround a number of electronics analysts had not expected. The experience has given both companies a monumental amount of confidence as well as mandates for global growth.
Just as important, LG manufacturers a wide array of components, like Samsung. Thus, it doesn't have to wait for suppliers to develop energy efficient parts before it can produce energy efficient dryers or TVs. It can keep things in-house and thereby come out with products at a relatively fast clip.
A number of Asian conglomerates have laid plans to expand in solar, lithium ion batteries, modular housing, energy efficient appliances, energy efficient air conditioning and other markets. The push comes in part from familiarity. Japan already has strict energy efficiency regulations. These companies, however, see that energy efficiency and alternative energy will likely be dominated by large corporations with extensive labs, the sort of thing they specialize in. Besides, they have to amortize those investments in LCD screens somehow.
Here's the partial list: Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, Toshiba, TSMC, Hitachi. A number of large Japanese conglomerates are testing smart grid products and other devices in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., General Motors said it would invest $8 million more into its battery labs and expand the facility's footprint from 30,000 square feet to 63,000 square feet.