GM planning JV to process cathodes for EV batteries in North America by 2024

DETROIT — General Motors said it plans to establish a joint venture with Posco Chemical, a Korean advanced materials company, to process cathode active material for GM’s proprietary Ultium batteries in North America by 2024.

GM said Wednesday that it signed a nonbinding term sheet with Posco to create the joint venture. The companies expect to execute definitive agreements by the first quarter of 2022, said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain.

Parks called the cathode “the energy source” of lithium-ion batteries. The cathode has the greatest impact on battery performance, safety and cost, he said.

The move is part of GM’s $35 billion investment in electric and autonomous vehicle development through 2025. The automaker plans to launch 30 EVs globally by then, with more than two-thirds available in the U.S., and aims for a fully electric light-vehicle portfolio by 2035. As EV production begins to scale, GM and other U.S. automakers are resetting the supply chain to source and process key battery materials locally and responsibly.

The majority of materials needed for the Ultium battery platform will be sourced and processed in North America by 2025, Parks told reporters Wednesday.

“We need to control our own destiny, especially when it comes to battery production,” he said.

The plant location will likely be announced in the first quarter, and GM expects it to create hundreds of new jobs.

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The cathode active material represents about 40 percent of the cost of a battery cell, GM said.

“Our work with Posco Chemical is a key part of our strategy to rapidly scale U.S. EV production and drive innovation in battery performance, quality and cost,” Parks said in a statement. “We are building a sustainable and resilient North America-focused supply chain for EVs covering the entire ecosystem from raw materials to battery cell manufacturing and recycling.”

The cathode processing center will supply Ultium Cells plants that GM and LG Energy Solution are building in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tenn. GM plans to open two additional Ultium plants in the U.S. by mid-decade but has not shared location details.

“We are very pleased to participate in the global battery supply chain project with General Motors,” Posco Chemical CEO Kyungzoon Min said in the statement. “Through close partnership, we will innovate battery materials and contribute to accelerate the adoption of EVs based on our world-class product development, mass production capacity, and raw materials competitiveness.”

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