October 23, 2021

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GM and LG to build second US battery plant in Tennessee

Ultium Cells, a joint venture of LG Energy Solution and General Motors, have announced plans to build a second US battery cell manufacturing plant, in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

The companies will invest some $2.3 billion in the new facility, which will supply battery cells to GM’s Spring Hill assembly plant. Construction on the 2.8 million-square-foot plant will begin immediately, and it’s scheduled to open in late 2023.

GM says the new plant will use the most advanced manufacturing processes, and will be extremely flexible and able to adapt to ongoing advances in technology and materials.

GM’s proprietary Ultium battery technology is at the heart of the company’s EV strategy. The large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, allowing engineers to optimize energy storage layout for each vehicle design. Energy options range from 50 to 200 kWh.

Most of GM’s future Ultium-powered EVs will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast charging capability, but GM’s truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast charging.

As EV sales grow, experts agree that far more battery manufacturing capacity will be needed, especially in the US and Europe. GM-watchers say the automaker will need more battery plants in order to meet its target of ending sales of light-duty ICE vehicles by 2035.

LG Energy said last month that it plans to invest more than $4.5 billion in US battery production over the next four years, including plans to build at least two new plants. The battery-maker recently settled a trade dispute with rival South Korean firm SK Innovation, eliminating what many feared would be a major bottleneck for US battery production.

“The addition of our second all-new Ultium battery cell plant in the US with our joint venture partner LG Energy Solution is another major step in our transition to an all-electric future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “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.”

“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 US-based supply chains that enable everything from research, product development and production to the procurement of raw components,” said LG Energy Solution CEO Jonghyun Kim.

Source: GM, Reuters