General Motors announces $7 billion electric vehicle investment
General Motors became the latest auto manufacturer to emphasize its commitment to the growing electric vehicle (EV) market with the announcement on Jan. 25 that it is making the largest investment in company history in its home state of Michigan, announcing plans to spend nearly $7 billion to convert a factory to make electric pickup trucks and to build a new battery cell plant.
The Associated Press reported that the automaker plans to spend up to $4 billion converting and expanding its Orion Township assembly factory to make electric pickups and $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion building a third U.S. battery cell plant with a joint-venture partner in Lansing.
The growth of the EV market will require raw materials needed for the batteries that power the vehicles.
In December 2021, General Motors and MP Materials announced that they had entered a long-term agreement in which MP Materials would supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth alloy and magnets to power more than a dozen models using GM’s Ultium Platform.
Also in 2021, GM announced that it had formed a strategic investment and commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) to secure local and low-cost lithium. This lithium will be produced through a closed-loop, direct extraction process that results in a smaller physical footprint, no production tailing and lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared to traditional processes like pit mining or evaporation ponds.
A significant amount of GM's future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could come from CTR's Hell's Kitchen Lithium and Power development in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field, located in Imperial, California. With the help of GM's investment, CTR's closed-loop, direct extraction process will recover lithium from geothermal brine.
The automaker plans to spend up to $4 billion converting and expanding its Orion Township assembly factory to make electric pickups and $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion building a third U.S. battery cell plant with a joint-venture partner in Lansing.
GM CEO Mary Barra said the investment would make Michigan “the epicenter of the electric vehicle industry.”
The state’s economic development board on Tuesday approved $824 million in incentives and assistance for Detroit-based GM. The package was unveiled and authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board. It includes a $600 million grant to GM and Ultium Cells, the venture between the carmaker and LG Energy Solution, and a $158 million tax break for Ultium. The board also approved $66.1 million to help a local electric utility and township upgrade infrastructure at the battery factory site.
The Orion plant will join GM’s “Factory Zero” facility in Detroit in building new electric Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierra pickups. When both plants are making trucks on three shifts, GM will have the ability to build 600,000 electric pickup trucks per year, Barra said.
The announcement is a critical win for Michigan, which lost out on Ford Motor Co.’s $11 billion investment in three battery plants and a new vehicle assembly plant that went to Kentucky and Tennessee.
GM says it will build four battery cell factories in North America. The Lansing announcement is its third, but Reuss said more may be needed as the transition to electric vehicles continues. The location of the fourth plant has not been announced.