GM & Posco announce cathode material joint venture

General Motors and Posco Chemical have announced a joint factory in North America to process active cathode material for GM’s Ultium electric vehicle platform. Details are expected to follow shortly – when the joint venture is officially formed.

++ This article has been updated. Kindly continue reading below. ++

The exact location of the factory, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs when it opens in 2024, is to be announced at a later date. How much both companies will invest and how the shares in the joint venture are distributed is not yet known.

As yet, the announcement of the joint venture is based on a non-binding agreement that has now been signed by both companies. According to the GM announcement, however, the partners are confident that a final agreement will be reached soon.

This confidence is probably based on the fact that there is already a supply agreement between Posco Chemical and Ultium Cells. Ultium Cells is the battery cell manufacturing joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution. A supply agreement for cathode material was already signed in December 2020 and for anodes in April 2021. Until the yet-to-be-built cathode materials plant of the planned joint venture starts production, Ultium Cells will apparently source the material from the existing supply agreement. According to this agreement, the cathode material will come from Gwangyang in South Korea, for which Posco had announced the expansion of production capacities in spring.

There is no mention of joint production of anode materials in the General Motors announcement. So far, the agreement states that Ultium Cells will source the anodes from Posco’s Sejong plant.

Ultium Cells is currently building two battery factories in the US, one in Lordstown, Ohio, and the second in Spring Hill, Tennessee. “By the middle of the decade” two more battery plants are to be added to meet General Motors’ needs as it transitions its model line-up. So far, GM says the new joint venture’s plant will supply the Lordstown and Spring Hill plants. It is not known if the capacity will be sufficient for the other two plants.

“Our work with POSCO Chemical is a key part of our strategy to rapidly scale U.S. EV production and drive innovation in battery performance, quality and cost,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain. “We are building a sustainable and resilient North America-focused supply chain for EVs covering the entire ecosystem from raw materials to battery cell manufacturing and recycling.”

Kyungzoon Min, CEO of Posco Chemical, added: “Through close partnership, we will innovate battery materials and contribute to accelerate the adoption of EVs based on our world-class product development, mass production capacity, and raw materials competitiveness.”

Update 08 March 2022

A decision has been made for the location of the GM and Posco cathode materials plant announced in December 2021. The facility is to be built in Bécancour in the Canadian province of Québec for an investment estimated at 500 million Canadian dollars, or about 400 million US dollars. Construction work will start immediately, however, no date was set for the targeted commissioning.

For Bécancour, it is the second cathode material plant to be announced within a very short time: Only on Monday, BASF announced its intention to build such a factory in Bécancour – the German company has already secured a plot of land. Production is planned to start here in 2025.

Bécancour is located on the Saint Lawrence River, which should not only enable good logistics, but also energy supply with regional hydropower.

Update 30 May 2022

General Motors and Posco Chemical have completed the formation of their announced joint venture for cathode materials. The joint venture, called Ultium CAM, is majority-owned by Posco Chemical with 85 per cent and will be capitalised by both partners with a total of 327 million US dollars.

As reported above, the joint venture is planning a cathode material plant in Bécancour in the Canadian province of Québec with an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes. Construction will begin in August this year and is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2024., (update), (update II)


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