- General Motors and LG Chem are forming a joint venture to invest $US2.3 billion into a new battery factory that will be located in Ohio.
- The partnership will be a 50-50 undertaking, and is anticipated to create 1,100 new jobs.
- The plan is to build the factory near Lordstown, OH, the site of a GM plant that was idled in early 2019 and that later became a contentious issue for the company and President Donald Trump, in addition to being a factor in the lengthy UAW strike this year.
General Motors is partnering with South Korea’s LG Chem to build a new battery factory in Ohio.
The No.1 US automaker announced the plan on Thursday. The joint venture is a 50-50 collaboration between the companies, with total investment of as much as $US2.3 billion, GM said.
The new plant is anticipated to create 1,100 jobs, GM added.
The companies said that they would break ground in Ohio in 2020.
GM and LG Chem plan to locate the factory in the Lordstown, OH area. In March, GM idled its plant there, which had for years been producing the Chevy Cruze sedan. The “unallocation” created a rift between GM and President Donald Trump.
Later, the factory and its fate became an issue in negotiations between GM and the United Auto Workers over a new four-year labour contract. GM offered the battery factory as a solution to layoffs at Lordstown (and had previously supplied relocation deals for displaced workers), but the UAW-represented workforce still undertook a 50-day strike, the longest against a major US carmaker since the 1970s.
“With this investment, Ohio and its highly capable workforce will play a key role in our journey toward a world with zero emissions,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “Combining our manufacturing expertise with LG Chem’s leading battery-cell technology will help accelerate our pursuit of an all-electric future,” Barra added.
On a Thursday conference call with reporters after the announcement, Barra said that although the Lordstown workforce was represented by the UAW, whether employees at the new facility are union or non-union would be up to them – they would have to organise and bargain collectively with the joint venture for a contract. Barra added that the payscale for workers would mirror what GM currently pays employees in the components sector, but that the jobs would be “good playing.”
GM isn’t wasting any time getting started on that all-electric future. The company noted that a wave of electric vehicles will use the new plant’s batteries, commencing in 2021.
In a statement, LG Chem CEO Hak-Cheol Shin said, “Our long- standing history with General Motors has proven our collective expertise in this space, and we look forward to continuing this drive for zero emissions.”
Barra said on the conference call that the White House had been advised of the deal with LG Chem, but deferred to the administration for comment. She also stressed that the new factory represents a critical moment for GM as it moves toward electrifying vehicle production. “GM believes in the science of global warming,” she said.
And she indicated that the Ohio facility could be joined by other plants as the EV market expands.
“If you believe in electric vehicles, there will absolutely be more factories,” she told reporters.
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