General Motors & LG Investing $2.3 billion in a New EV Battery Factory in Tennessee

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【Summary】Ultium Cells LLC, the joint venture of LG Energy Solution and General Motors, today announced a $2.3 billion plus investment to build a second EV battery cell manufacturing plant in the U.S. The new facility will be located in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Construction on the approximately 2.8 million-square-foot EV battery plant will begin immediately GM said.

Eric Walz    May 23, 2021 10:25 AM PT
General Motors & LG Investing $2.3 billion in a New EV Battery Factory in Tennessee
Early conceptual rendering of Ultium Cells LLC battery cell manufacturing facility in Spring Hill, Tennessee. (Photo: General Motors)

Ultium Cells LLC, the joint venture of LG Energy Solution and General Motors, today announced a $2.3 billion plus investment to build a second EV battery cell manufacturing plant in the U.S.

The new facility will be located in Spring Hill, Tennessee, where the automaker has had a presence since 1990 when its opened its Spring Hill Manufacturing plant. The plant is the largest GM facility in North America. The plant has produced nearly 4.5 million GM vehicles since 1996. 

Ultium Cells will build the EV battery plant on land leased from GM. The automaker owns over 2,000 acres of land surrounding the plant. The new battery cell plant will create 1,300 new jobs. 

Construction on the approximately 2.8 million-square-foot facility will begin immediately GM said, and the plant is scheduled to open in late 2023.

The Tennessee factory will support GM's future EVs built in Tennessee. The automaker announced in Oct 2020 that it will invest $2 billion in its Spring Hill Manufacturing facility to build fully-electric vehicles, including the upcoming Cadillac LYRIQ crossover, the first electric vehicle from GM's luxury division. The LYRIQ will be the first EV produced at GM's Spring Hill assembly plant.

"The addition of our second all-new Ultium battery cell plant in the U.S. with our joint venture partner LG Energy Solution is another major step in our transition to an all-electric future," said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. "The support of the state of Tennessee was an important factor in making this investment in Spring Hill possible and this type of support will be critical moving forward as we continue to take steps to transition our manufacturing footprint to support EV production."

GM's first battery plant is in Ohio near the automaker's former Lordstown assembly factory. GM and LG are also investing up to $2.3 billion in the Ohio facility. The total investments in the two factories is $4.6 billion.

The state-of-the-art Spring Hill plant will employ advanced manufacturing processes to produce battery cells more efficiently, with little waste, according to GM. It's also designed to be flexible enough to adapt to new advancements in EV battery technology. The new battery plant is part of GM's mission to drive down the cost of batteries through economies of scale.

Through the Ultium Cells joint venture, LG Energy Solution and GM will merge their advanced technologies and capabilities to help accelerate automotive electrification. 

Last year, GM said its joint venture battery factory with LG Chem will drive battery cell costs below $100/kWh, which is roughly 40% less than they cost now. The new battery cells will use a proprietary low cobalt chemistry and improvements in manufacturing will help reduce costs even further. 

The $100 per kWh cost is considered to be the price point where electric vehicles will cost around the same as internal combustion engine powered models. 

"This partnership with General Motors will transform Tennessee into another key location for electric vehicle and battery production. It will allow us to build solid and stable U.S-based supply chains that enable everything from research, product development and production to the procurement of raw components," LG Energy Solution President and CEO Jonghyun Kim said. 

The EV battery factory investments are part of GM's long term strategy of phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035. The automaker is investing up to $27 billion, including $7 billion in 2021, in its transformation as its looks to take on Tesla, which is now the world's most valuable automaker with a market cap topping $700 billion.

GM's new Ultium batteries for its future EVs are unique. The Utium batteries are built with new large-format, pouch-style cells, which can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimize battery power output and layout for each vehicle design. 

Energy options range from 50 to 200 kilowatt hours, which could enable an estimated range up to 450 miles or more on a full charge with 0-60 mph acceleration in 3 seconds, according to GM.

GM's future Ultium-powered EVs are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most of GM's future EVs will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast charging capability. GM's bigger electric truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast charging capability.

Tennessee will also be the home of German automaker Volkswagen's new U.S. EV battery factory, which will include production lines for both battery cells and packs for the company's future electric models sold in North America. Volkswagen is building a state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs at the plant.

GM plans to launch 30 EVs globally by the end of 2025. More than two-thirds of these models will be available in North America under the Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and Buick nameplates. GM's initiatives rely upon the production of EV batteries at scale.

Earlier this month, GM announced its will build an electric version of the popular Chevy Silverado pickup, sending the company's stock price to the highest levels in a decade.

The electric Silverado will go into production late next year at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which has been renamed "Factory ZERO" to reflect GM's corporate mission of a zero emissions future.

Factory ZERO will only build electric vehicles.

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