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(Photo: Wikipedia)

General Motors, LG Chem announce joint venture to develop electric vehicle batteries

(Photo: Wikipedia)

US Automaker General Motors (GM) today announced its decision to “mass-produce battery cells” for electric vehicles after signing a US$2.3-billion joint venture deal with Korean company LG Chem.

“The state-of-the-art plant will use the most advanced manufacturing processes all under one roof to produce cells efficiently, with little waste…”

— General Motors Company

The equal-partnership joint venture will see to the construction of a battery cell assembly plant in Lordstown, north-east Ohio, which will create over 1,100 new jobs, according to a release.

“The state-of-the-art plant will use the most advanced manufacturing processes all under one roof to produce cells efficiently, with little waste, and will benefit from strong economies of scale throughout the value chain. The plant will be extremely flexible and able to adapt to ongoing advances in technology and materials,” the company also said.

The partnership will also focus on the development and production of “advanced battery technologies” with a view leading the industry by offering low-cost batteries.

“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 Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Mary Barry (Photo: General Motors Company)

“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,” she continued.

It all adds up

The announcement of the joint venture comes after the maker of Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Chevrolet sold its manufacturing complex to Lordstown Motors Corp, in the locale of the same name. The latter is engaged in producing battery-electric trucks, and officials at GM believes these developments will position the north-eastern region of Ohio to become a major hub for technology and electric-vehicle manufacturing.

This Endurance pickup is one of Lordstown Motors’ electrical vehicle designs.
(Photo: Lordstown Motors)

Furthermore, the investment adds to GM’s US$28-million spend in its Warren, Michigan battery lab announced in late 2018. It also builds on other investments by the American car manufacturer in Ohio cities Toledo, Parma, and Brookville amounting to about US$700 million.

LG looks for long-term growth

In the meantime, LG will benefit from the agreement by having access to an experienced labour force and “a dedicated production stream of future Evs [electric vehicles] from GM’s next generation of battery-electric vehicles, including an all-new battery-electric truck” that will be launched in late 2021.

Commenting on the agreement, LG Chem Vice-Chairman and CEO Hak-Cheol Shin said: “Our joint venture with [General Motors] will further prepare us for the anticipated growth of the North American EV market, while giving us insights into broader EV ecosystem.”

LG Chem Vice-Chairman and CEO Hak-Cheol Shin

“Our long-standing history with General Motors has proven our collective expertise in this space, and we look forward to continuing this drive to zero emissions,” he added.

In October 2016 LG Chem entered the electric vehicle market when it began construction of 445,000-sq-ft battery plant in Wroclaw, southwestern Poland. At that time the Korean projected investing 400 billion Korean won in the European plant by the end of 2018.