Gearhead News

March 5, 2021
GM Looks to Tennessee for Possible Second Battery Factory in the US

GM is extremely serious about electric expansion. From a $20-billion investment to rival Tesla with its all-new Ultium platform, hitting that coveted 400-mile-range mark, converting existing factories, and building an entirely new facility in Lordstown, Ohio, the General is going all-out. Said efforts now include building a second facility, possibly in Tennessee, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Per the report, a GM spokesperson confirmed to the outlet that “the companies are exploring building a second battery-cell plant and said a decision could come in the first half of this year.” Last month, the Ohio plant hit over 500,000 hours of construction, followed by GM announcing on Feb. 19 that the final steel beam had been installed. The project has proudly flagged that it uses U.S. steel while collaborating with Korean LG Chem—GM’s technical partner for Ultium—with the view that GM will, like Tesla, be building batteries for its cars exclusively in the U.S. going forward.

General Motors

The Ultium platform has been used in the GMC Hummer and will be the basis for GM’s EV collaborations with Honda, as well as the benchmark for GM’s electrification going forwards. Ultium is an ultra-configurable EV setup consisting of five different, interchangeable drive units and three different motors, as well as the “stackable” batteries that can be used to make vehicles longer range by adding more cells.

GM’s bet on U.S.-built battery technology being key to its supply line, especially in taking on Tesla, goes against what some other manufacturers are doing. Ford may be eating into Tesla’s market share with the Mustang Mach-E, but the batteries are currently made in Poland, at a dedicated plant run by—yes—LG. 

The Ohio Ultium factory is reported by GM to create 1,100 jobs as part of the construction and opening. Good news for wherever the second one crops up—although LG Chem did potentially shut down a rival plant in Georgia last month, over a trade secret dispute with SK International.

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