General Motors and its partner, LG Energy Solutions, plan to invest $2.3 billion in a new plant in Tennessee that will build Ultium batteries and employ 1,300 people.
The new plant on GM’s property in Spring Hill, TN, east of Nashville will become the second battery plant the GM-LG consortium, Ultium Cells LLC, now has under construction, along with a plant in Lordstown, OH (see construction photo below).
“The addition of our second all-new Ultium battery cell plant in the U.S. with our joint venture partner LG Energy Solution is another major step in our transition to an all-electric future,” says 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,” says Barra, noting GM is investing $27 billion to finance plans to bring 30 BEVs to market by 2025.
GM plans to spend $7 billion this year alone on its zero-emissions initiatives, Barra says. With Ultium Cells, LG Energy Solutions and GM will merge their advanced technologies and capabilities to help accelerate automotive electrification.
The UAW says the jobs created around the plant are vital to transitioning from internal-combustion engines.
“These are important jobs and we continue to work with General Motors on the transition to electric vehicles. We believe that GM has a moral obligation to work with the UAW and the joint-venture partner to make sure these are good-paying union jobs like those of their brothers and sisters who make internal-combustion engines,” the union says.
Plans call for GM to lease to Ultium the Spring Hill property, which the automaker acquired a generation ago when it was searching for a site for its Saturn factory. Barra says construction will begin soon on the 2.8 million-sq.-ft. (79,300-sq.-m) plant and should be completed in 2023.
The plant will supply battery cells to the Spring Hill assembly plant, which GM said in October will build the Cadillac Lyriq EV while also continuing to build the gasoline-powered Cadillac XT6 and XT5.
The announcement makes Spring Hill the third GM plant designated for production of BEVs, behind the Detroit-Hamtramck plant (now known as Factory Zero) and Orion Assembly in Orion Township outside Detroit.
“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 U.S.-based supply chains that enable everything from research, product development and production to the procurement of raw components,” LG Energy Solutions President and CEO Jonghyun Kim says.
Ultium’s Spring Hill plant will use the most advanced and efficient battery-cell manufacturing processes and will be able to adapt to ongoing advances in technology and materials, GM and LG Energy Solutions note.
GM’s proprietary Ultium battery technology is at the heart of the company’s strategy to compete for nearly every EV customer in the marketplace, whether they are looking for affordable transportation, luxury vehicles, work trucks, commercial trucks or high-performance machines.
Ultium batteries use large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, allowing engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design.
Energy options range from 50 kWh to 200 kWh, which could enable a GM-estimated range up to 450 miles (724 km) or more on a full charge with 0-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration in 3 seconds, according to GM engineers.
GM’s future Ultium-powered EVs (starting with the GMC Hummer pickup this fall) are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most will have 400V battery packs and up to 200-kW fast-charging capability, while GM’s truck platform will have 800V battery packs and 350-kW fast-charging capability.
With 30 years in the battery business, LG Energy Solutions says it has made consistent, large-scale investments to accumulate enough stability, credibility and manufacturing experience to invent its own cutting-edge technologies.
The company established its first research center in the U.S. in suburban Detroit in 2000, Kim notes. In 2010, the company built its first U.S battery plant in Holland, MI.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says the investment by GM and LG Energy, the largest in the state’s history, ensures Tennessee’s position as the leading automotive state in the Southeast. Tennessee also is home to Nissan and Volkswagen plants.