General Motors and LG Energy Solution on Friday announced plans for a U.S. battery plant in Tennessee.
This will be the second battery plant that's part of Ultium Cells LLC, the joint venture between the two companies that primarily aims to supply GM's Ultium propulsion strategy as it adds new EV models. This plant will supply GM's Spring Hill Plant, due to build the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV in 2022.
Conceptual drawing of Ultium Cells plant in Tennessee
The announcement, confirming all the details reported by Reuters earlier in the week, via multiple sources, adds up to a $2.3 billion investment for a 2.8-million-sqaure-foot facility and will create 1,300 jobs.
Tennessee isn’t a new proposition for the battery supplier, which is also known as LG Chem. It had the state on its shortlist in 2019, when it was considering a second U.S. manufacturing site—after a smaller one in Holland, Michigan that has supplied cells for the Chevy Bolt EV since 2019. That new site ended up being in Lordstown, Ohio, which is dedicated to supply large-format pouch cells for GM’s Ultium battery strategy—due to power the upcoming GMC Hummer EV models starting later this year and a Chevrolet Silverado EV in 2023.
2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV
LG Chem has reportedly indicated that it might also build cylindrical-format cells in the U.S.—perhaps in the new 4680 format that Tesla is planning to use in its Cybertruck and Semi, and the Reuters report indicates that the plant “will use a different, more cost-effective battery chemistry” than the one being produced at Lordstown.
Thet remains a point for the companies to clarify. GM plans to use the same NMCA (nickel cobalt manganese aluminum) chemistry on most or all of its vehicles for the next few years to help achieve cost targets—until lithium-metal cells might afford vast improvements in energy density.
GM Ultium battery - cell stacking
Lordstown Motors has already confirmed that it will use LG Chem cylindrical cells, in the 2170 format Tesla currently uses for the Model 3 and Model Y, for its Endurance electric truck that is due to ramp up this fall. It’s not yet clear where those cells will be sourced from.
GM credited support from the state of Tennessee as an important factor in why the plant is where it is, while LG Energy Solution president and CEO Jonghyun Kim said that the partnership "will allow us to build solid and stable U.S-based supply chains that enable everything from research, product development and production to the procurement of raw components."
In the interest of stability, amid pressure from the U.S. government, LG Energy Solution and rival South Korean battery supplier SK Innovation just last weekend reached a settlement in which SKI will pay LG $1.8 billion to settle a longstanding dispute—cementing a solid future for an SKI manufacturing complex in Georgia that will be able to make enough batteries for up to 300,000 EVs annually.
This piece was originally published on April 14, and has been updated to include official information from the companies, including a quote from LG.