Report: GM planning second US battery plant with LG in Tennessee

General Motors is reportedly making plans with the South Korean battery supplier LG Chem for a second joint U.S. battery plant—this one in Tennessee. 

According to Reuters, confirming multiple sources familiar with the plans on Wednesday, the $2.3 billion factory potentially being announced Friday would be in Spring Hill. That’s near the former Saturn facility that’s due to start making the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV in 2022. 

Tennessee isn’t a new proposition for the battery supplier. 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

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.

That doesn't follow what GM has previously said, assuring that it 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

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, and the Reuters report doesn’t verify if this will also be called part of the Ultium Cells LLC joint venture. 

GM declined to issue a comment, referring to it as rumor and speculation, but noted that the two companies have already confirmed they're "exploring the feasibility of a second U.S. battery cell plant."

We’re following this story as it evolves and will update if we hear back from LG Energy Solution. 

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