GM, Samsung Plan New EV Battery Cell Factory in US

Location of New Battery-Producing Facility is TBA
Samsung SDI Co.'s booth during the InterBattery 2021 at COEX
People walk by Samsung SDI Co.'s booth during the InterBattery 2021, the country's leading battery exhibition, at COEX in Seoul, South Korea. (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)

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DETROIT — General Motors and South Korea’s Samsung SDI plan to invest more than $3 billion in a new electric vehicle battery cell plant in the United States, the companies said April 25.

They did not announce the intended location of the new factory, which is expected to begin operations in 2026, GM and Samsung SDI said in a statement. GM and Samsung SDI plan to jointly operate the factory, which is expected to make nickel-rich prismatic and cylindrical cells. The companies said it was expected to create thousands of jobs.

The project is GM’s fourth joint venture battery cell factory. It has announced three others with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution. A 900-worker factory near Warren, Ohio, is starting to build cells, while plants in Spring Hill, Tenn., and Lansing, Mich., are in the works.

The announcement coincides with a visit to the United States by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The two countries are marking the 70th anniversary of their alliance with a summit that was also to feature announcements on new nuclear deterrence efforts, cybersecurity and other areas of cooperation.

Samsung was picked as the partner for the fourth plant after some Chevrolet Bolt batteries made by LG caught fire, forcing GM to recall about 142,000 vehicles due to a battery manufacturing problem. The recall cost GM about $1.9 billion, and the automaker said it was reimbursed for the cost by LG.

“We will do our best to provide the products featuring the highest level of safety and quality produced with our unrivaled technologies to help GM strengthen its leadership in the EV market,” Samsung SDI President and CEO Yoon-ho Choi said in a statement.

 Samsung SDI automotive battery cells

Samsung SDI automotive battery cells. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg News)

The new factory will have more than 30 gigawatt hours of capacity and will increase GM’s total U.S. battery cell capacity to about 160 gigawatt hours when it is at full production, the companies said.

GM has pledged to sell only electric vehicles by 2035. It has said that because of its huge investment in battery plants and a North American EV supply chain, six of its current or upcoming electric vehicles are to be eligible for the full $7,500 U.S. federal EV tax credit. They are the Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt SUV, the Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup, the Cadillac Lyriq SUV and the upcoming Chevy Blazer and Equinox electric SUVs.

Under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, EVs must be assembled in North America, and a certain percentage of their battery parts and minerals have to come from North America or a U.S. free trade partner to qualify for the full tax credit.

Workers at the Ohio battery plant have voted to join the United Auto Workers union, which is pushing to organize the other factories and get top wages for the workers. Union officials have said they must organize the battery plants so that workers making engines and transmissions have a place to go when jobs making internal combustion vehicles are phased out.

Electric vehicles have 30% to 40% fewer moving parts and require about 30% fewer labor hours to build them.

— Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul contributed.

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