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LG Chem targets big automakers with Polish battery plant

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By Marcin Goettig

WARSAW, Oct 12 (Reuters) - South Korean battery maker LG Chem will produce 100,000 electric car batteries a year in Poland to meet demand from global automakers ditching diesel and petrol engines.

LG Chem said in a joint statement with the Polish development ministry on Thursday that its battery factory, which is due to be completed next year near the western city of Wroclaw, will be Europe's largest and employ 2,500 people.

The factory will make batteries for electric cars produced by top car companies, which are investing billions of dollars in electric cars to catch up with Tesla, LG Chem said.

The European Union, which is pushing for a switch from gasoline and diesel engines, is making efforts to develop battery production in the bloc to compete with Asian and U.S. manufacturers.

Wroclaw is only 190 kilometres (118 miles) from the border with Germany, where Volkswagen plans to invest more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in zero-emission vehicles by 2030 and make three million EVs a year by 2025.

LG Chem did not say how much it would spend on its new batteries business, but it recently invested 1.4 billion zlotys in LG Chem Wroclaw Energy, which will manage the factory, and granted it 2.8 billion zloty ($777 million) in credit guarantees.

LG has had a production hub near Wroclaw since 2007. ($1 = 0.8428 euros) ($1 = 3.6020 zlotys) (Writing by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Agnieszka Barteczko/Lidia Kelly/Alexander Smith)