American auto giant General Motors and battery maker LG Chem will invest $US2.3 billion to produce electric vehicle batteries in mass volume at a new factory to be built in Lordstown, Ohio, the companies announced on Thursday (US time).
Under the 50/50 joint venture, the two companies will hire 1,100 workers to make 30GWh worth of lithium-ion battery cells on an annual basis to feed demand for a range of electric vehicles (EVs) planned by the company in coming years.
GM announced in November 2018 that it would shut five factories, fire 15% of its workers and 25% of management in order to cut costs to work towards an electric vehicle transition.
It also ended production of its plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, while announcing a further $US424 million for a new Chevrolet electric car to be built in Michigan.
The moves to transition towards electric mobility remain, however, in direct contrast to General Motors continued stance alongside US president Trump to strip the state of California of its rights to maintain its own strict clean air rules.
This stance earned GM in November a place on a list of banned car makers including Toyota from which the state of California will no longer purchase new vehicles.
The new battery manufacturing site will be built on a greenfield site in Lordstown, and will use state-of-the-art processes to provide EV batteries for a new generation of electric vehicles, which will include a Cadillac EV and an electric ute (known as pickup in the US) that it will introduce in the northern hemisphere’s autumn of 2021.
“With this investment, Ohio and its highly capable workforce will play a key role in our journey toward a world with zero emissions,” said GM chair and CEO Mary Barra in a statement to the press.
“Combining our manufacturing expertise with LG Chem’s leading battery-cell technology will help accelerate our pursuit of an all-electric future. We look forward to collaborating with LG Chem on future cell technologies that will continue to improve the value we deliver to our customers.”
“Our joint venture with the No. 1 American automaker will further prepare us for the anticipated growth of the North American EV market, while giving us insights into the broader EV ecosystem,” said LG Chem vice chair and CEO Hak-Cheol Shin in a statement.
“Our long-standing history with General Motors has proven our collective expertise in this space, and we look forward to continuing this drive for zero emissions.”
After winding down the carmaker’s previous Lordstown assembly facility in March, staffed also by around 1,100 workers and where the Chevrolet Cruze (sold under the Holden badge in Australia) was made, it then sold the site to EV startup Lordstown Motors in November.
General Motors currently makes six different battery cell modules for nine hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles at its Brownstown battery plant in Michigan.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.