General Motors and LG Energy to build second battery cell plant in US

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A joint venture between LG Energy Solutions and General Motors, Ultium Cells LLC, has expanded its investments in battery cell manufacturing in the US.

Ultium Cells LLC has announced more than $2.3 billion in investments to develop its second battery cell manufacturing facility in the US.

The plant will be constructed on a 2.8 million-square-foot piece of land in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The new battery cell plant will create 1,300 new jobs and is scheduled to open in late 2023. In order to meet the deadline, construction has started immediately.

General Motors will use the project to expand its battery storage and electric vehicles (EV) business.

General Motors plans to offer 30 all-electric models globally by mid-decade by investing $27 billion in EVs and autonomous vehicles by 2025, of which $7 billion will be invested in 2021 alone.

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Ultium batteries are unique in the industry because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimise battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design.

In a fact sheet released by General Motors, the company explains the advantages ultium batteries will bring to its EV and energy storage business including:

  • Ultium batteries will help reduce the costs of EVs and battery storage. The high costs of EVs have been identified as one of the main barriers hindering the increased adoption of electric cars, together with the unavailability of charging infrastructure.
  • The main aim behind the establishment of Ultium Cells LLC is to develop and mass-produce battery cells to drive cell costs below $100 per kWh. This will have a direct impact on the costs of EVs as well since the battery will also be cheaper.
  • Ultium batteries have the highest nickel and lowest cobalt (the scarce and most expensive mineral used in the production of almost all lithium-ion batteries used today) content.
  • Ultium battery cells have less cobalt content by more than 70% compared to other batteries on the market. Reducing the amount of cobalt in the battery will also reduce the costs associated with the battery hence ultium batteries are expected to cost 60% less than today’s battery packs.
  • Also, ultium system could offer General Motors an estimated driving range of up to 400 miles on a full
    charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration as low as 3.0 seconds, a development that will help address the challenge of EV charging range which is hindering the penetration of EVs and their use for long-distance traveling.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, said: “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.

“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.”

LG Energy Solution President and CEO Jonghyun Kim, adds: “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.”