General Motors and LG Energy Solution appear to consider building a third battery cell factory in the US to produce more Ultium cells to power future electric pick-up trucks. The decision is heavily dependent on state incentives, however.
Inside sources told local media GM was eyeing Lansing, Michigan, as a location and could spend $2.5Bn together with joint venture partner LG Energy Solutions. Both companies filed a tax exemption document with the City of Lansing through the Ultium Cells joint venture also points in this direction. The record shows a four-year construction schedule running through December 2025.
However, the decision remains outstanding and heavily depends on local government approval and incentives, as Bob Trezise, president & CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, pointed out. He also told Automotive News that GM has “not made any decisions at all.”
“This is simply putting together what we hope is a very competitive proposal,” Trezise told the news service. “We’re going to do our best to do something great for the state and our region. But there are no guarantees. These are just proposals that are part of a fiercely competitive process.”
Michigan is GM’s home state, and local media further suggests, the announcement tied to tax incentives was made on the heels of the Michigan Legislature trying to pass bills that would create a “first-of-its-kind pot” of money for Michigan to counter other states with cash incentives for large-scale economic development projects.
However, “these projects are not approved and securing all available incentives will be critical for any business case to continue moving forward,” GM spokesperson Dan Flores added.
Should the decision go ahead, however, the cell factory will likely stand near the automaker’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant. GM opened the factory in 2006, making it one of the most modern GM plants in North America. The SUV series Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse are currently produced there. Plans for electric vehicle production at the plant have never been openly discussed.
What is confirmed is that the Ultium Cells JV is so far building two battery cell factories in Lordstown in Ohio and in Spring Hill in Tennessee. The latter decision also relied on state funding which 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 at the time.
GM has already confirmed that the Cruise Origin, Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV will all receive the new Ultium battery system.
This also fits current media reports, saying GM also wants to invest more than two billion US dollars in its Orion assembly plant in Michigan to build electric pick-ups there in the future. Lansing is also closer to Orion than Lordstown.
A modernisation and retooling of the Orion Assembly to produce electric pick-ups would be a step into a brighter future. GM currently assembles the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV on-site – both sit on the old EV architecture, not on the Ultium platform that will power GM’s next-gen EVs, starting with the GMC Hummer scheduled to be shipped to dealerships this month. What’s more, production halted due to a lack of batteries following a mass recall and at the beginning of December, the pause was extended until the end of January.
Should both reports become true, GM would invest around $3.7 billion (€3.28 billion) in Michigan production – of the $2.5 billion for the potential battery plant in Lansing. GM would contribute only half; the other half would apparently come from partner LGES. However, a decision, in either case, would be “heavily dependent on Michigan state tax exemptions/incentives,” writes InsideEVs.
General Motors is also planning a joint venture with South Korea’s Posco Chemical to supply Ultium Cells as reported. The companies already confirmed a joint plant to produce cathode materials with details to follow once they officially establish the joint venture.
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