(ATF) US car giant General Motors said on March 4 it plans to build a second battery cell factory with South Korean partner LG, as the company shifts towards producing electric vehicles.
GM recently announced it would stop selling most of its diesel or petrol engine cars by 2035, and last year unveiled its Ultium battery joint venture with LG, which it plans to use in future electric vehicles.
The two companies are "exploring the feasibility of constructing a second, state of the art battery cell manufacturing plant in the US," a GM spokeswoman said. "We hope to have a decision on the potential project in the first half of 2021."
Their decision to build the plant underscores the likely growth in battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs), analysts said. "We believe their rise will continue in 2021," said Rico Luman, senior sector analyst at ING in Alkmaar, Netherlands. "Worldwide sales could soar 50% again this year."
GM plans to offer 30 electric vehicles by 2025, in the company's four brands Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet, Buick. The company has said it plans to invest a total of $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles over five years.
GM's new plant could be located in Tennessee, according to The Wall Street Journal. GM and LG already are constructing a $2.3 billion battery cell plant in Lordstown, Ohio that is expected to be completed next year.
The US administration considers EV batteries essential, and last month President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order scrutinising supply chains to reduce US dependence on other countries for components.
Analysts are upbeat about expanding EV battery production. "From the supply side, EVs are increasingly the future for most manufacturers to meet tough production quotas," Ding Yuqian, head of automotive research at HSBC in Beijing, said.
"From the demand side, a new generation of young consumers with cash to spare are far more open to the idea of EVs," she added.
Separately, the US International Trade Commission on March 4 criticised Ford for pursuing battery contracts with another South Korean company, SK Innovation.
The censure came as a result of evidence emerging that SK Innovation, a Seoul-based EV battery maker, misappropriated trade secrets from rival LG Chem.
With reporting by Agence-France-Presse and Reuters