General Motors has now officially confirmed that its second battery cell plant in the US as part of its joint venture with LG Energy Solutions is already being built in Spring Hill, where GM already has a battery assembly plant at the Tennessee location.
Construction has already begun on the Spring Hill plant by Ultium Cells, the joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions, which recently became the independent battery division of its parent Group, LG Chem. The $2.3-billion-factory is scheduled to open in 2023. A total of 1,300 new jobs should be created in the plant. The plant is most important for General Motors electrification strategy since the cells for GM’s Ultium batteries will be manufactured there.
The joint venture Ultium Cells will build the new plant, which is expected to cover more than 2.8 million square feet, on land leased from GM. The American carmaker says that the battery plant will use “the most advanced and efficient battery cell manufacturing processes.” According to GM, the plant will be “extremely flexible” and able to adapt to constant advances in technology and materials. Once operational, the plant will supply battery cells to GM’s Spring Hill assembly plant for its Ultium batteries. At the vehicle plant there, the company plans to build the Cadillac Lyriq, among other vehicles.
“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,” said GM CEO Mary Barra.
“This partnership with General Motors will transform Tennessee into another key location for electric vehicle and battery production,” added Jonghyun Kim, CEO of LG Energy Solution. This, he says, will help build “solid and stable supply chains” in the US, enabling “everything from research to product development, production and sourcing of raw material components”.
The public announcements about this second GM and LG battery cell plant have been a bit confusing in the past few months. It is likely that the long and bitter court battle between the two S.Korean battery-making giants LG Chem and SK Innovation has had an influence on the timing of these announcements.
Early in March just passed, the Wall Street Journal reported that LG Energy Solutions and General Motors were close to a decision to build a plant in Tennessee as part of their joint venture. But General Motors seemed to be still undecided, releasing a public statement saying that it hoped to “make a decision on the potential project” by June. Later the same month LG went right ahead and announced that the plant is to offer a similar production capacity as the first plant in Ohio (35 GWh per year) and produce “next-generation cells,” but there was still no confirmation from General Motors (and LG Chem’s court battle appeared to be continuing with SK Innovation). Then, just days later, another major partner of LG Energy Solutions, Volkswagen, who was intending to source batteries from LG Chem, suddenly announced they would do without either S.Korean battery maker.
The official announcement now from General Motors most likely comes on the back of the news last week that LG Energy Solutions parent company LG Chem had settled the bitter fight with SK Innovation out of court whereby the two S.Korean battery-making giants agreed not to sue the other party for at least the next ten years.
In their latest press release for the new cell plant, General Motors underlined that “Ultium battery technology is at the heart of GM’s EV strategy.” This was quite clear almost exactly a year ago when the company revealed the Ultium batteries along with its electric vehicle platform. With so much riding on the relationship with LG Energy Solutions, it must be a massive relief that the parent company LG Chem’s bitter battery battle is over.
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