By on December 5, 2019

Image: GM

A battery plant mentioned in General Motors’ recently ratified UAW labor contract will soon become a reality in the hard-hit city of Lordstown, Ohio. That locale recently saw the lights go out at GM’s Lordstown Assembly, which closed its doors this spring after the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Cruze. The plant’s now in the hands of a fledgling electric automaker.

On Wednesday, GM announced the spending of $2.3 billion and the creation of 1,100 jobs in Lordstown — a necessary move to supply the automaker with battery packs for its electric vehicle push.

In a joint statement, GM and battery maker LG Chem announced the creation of a new joint venture company and construction of a new facility capable of producing 30 gigawatt hours of battery capacity a year. The greenfield plant is said to be expandable, with cost-per-gigawatt targeted at industry-leading levels.

“The state-of-the art plant will use the most advanced manufacturing processes all under one roof to produce cells efficiently, with little waste, and will benefit from strong economies of scale throughout the value chain. The plant will be extremely flexible and able to adapt to ongoing advances in technology and materials,” the companies said in a statement.

“The collaboration also includes a joint development agreement that brings together two leaders in battery science to develop and produce advanced battery technologies, with the goal of reducing battery costs to industry-leading levels.”

Recipients of the battery cells produced at the facility include the upcoming midsize Cadillac EV crossover, as well as an electric pickup slated for production in Detroit in 2021. Other EV models, including a commercial van and Bolt-based Chevrolet crossover, will soon join the automaker’s product ranks.

Construction on the Lordstown facility is expected to commence in the middle of next year.

[Image: General Motors]

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28 Comments on “Joint Battery Plant a Go for Down-on-its-luck Lordstown...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    If I lived here and had a skill set biased towards manufacturing and had worked for GM under its previous Lordstown contract… I would be running for the hills on this news, there’s only one way this is going to work out, and it won’t be in Lordstown favor. Temporary reprieve I suppose.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    The problem is that there just won’t be a lot of demand for the electric cars. I know no one who is waiting to buy an electric car when the price comes down.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      This illustrates a common mindset among the so-called “best and brightest”:

      “It doesn’t apply to me, therefore it won’t apply to anyone”.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I’m on my second EV, but we don’t know each other. :)

      As for the demand, in Q3-2019 the Model 3 outsold all of Cadillac, and all but three of GM’s other vehicles (Equinox, Silverado LD, and Sierra LD).

      Silverado LD: 119,641
      Equinox: 79,799
      Sierra LD: 47,743
      *Tesla Model 3*: 44,000
      Traverse: 41,116
      Trax: 37,407
      Silverado HD: 34,212
      Malibu: 32,432
      Colorado: 31,657
      Tahoe: 26,308
      Encore: 25,008
      Terrain: 23,058
      Express: 22,062
      Acadia: 20,338
      Blazer: 20,312
      Yukon: 18,737
      Sierra HD: 18,455
      Enclave: 13,274
      Suburban: 12,391
      XT5: 12,315
      Camaro: 12,275
      Escalade: 10,284
      Impala: 9,638
      XT4: 8,986
      Envision: 8,088
      Canyon: 7,437
      Spark: 6,616
      Cruze: 5,799
      Savana: 5,021
      Bolt EV: 4,830
      Corvette: 4,766
      XT6: 4,316
      Regal: 2,456
      Sonic: 2,148
      Silverado MD: 1,629
      CT6: 1,625
      LaCrosse: 1,389
      LCF: 1,358
      XTS: 1,149
      CTS: 1,128
      Volt: 874
      Cascada: 400
      ATS: 158

      Demand is there *if* you build the right car, and you can’t do that without batteries.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        You illustrated the problem yourself with that list though.

        The Bolt was the second best selling electric car in Q3, and was an afterthought. No one other than Tesla has demonstrated a consistent ability to sell EVs, and no one has yet demonstrated an ability to consistently sell them at a profit.

        That may change, but show me the evidence.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Non-Tesla EVs have mostly been in segments that are niche in the U.S. (small hatchbacks). That’s going to change in a big way over the next few years. Several makers are releasing midsize EV CUVs, we all know about multiple EV pickups, and there are also a few small CUVs and a sedan or two coming.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            If those sell, I may change my tune.

            I’m skeptical of startups like Rivian, Lordstown, et al, and I’m skeptical that the fundamental issue of TCO disadvantages vs gas vehicles are solved. Eventually companies will get tired of selling compliance vehicles at a loss, tax credits will dry up, etc.

            I think range anxiety is a bit overblown personally, but people do care about it and sales people at dealerships will use that fact to steer people to gas vehicles.

            Absent severe government regulation I don’t think EVs will be any kind of significant fraction of the market (25% or so) for decades.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            this coming year is going to show us whether the market for BEVs is much larger than the Elon Musk Fan Club.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Jim

            I agree, I think this is key.

  • avatar
    boxcarclassic

    This is so stupid! Under black jesus every industry and associate under the battery,windmill,solar scam went belly up. Ask the people in california how those electric cars feel.OOPS thats right they go without power for weeks. Besides we need many more power plants built throughout the U.S. if were going to put millions of vehicles on the grid. The entire green agenda is a fraud,lie,scam. You truly must be braindead to even believe in these false prophets. 60 yrs and not one of their claims have even come close to true.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    This is a good move, I know most on here don’t care of EV vs ICE, but the writing is on the wall. While I don’t buy the narrative that the next generation does not care about cars and don’t want or need a D.L. I do believe the younger generation is more aware of costs associated with the ICE. For most people an EV in the household makes economic sense **if** they can be had for comparable purchase prices and are not penalty boxes, both items it seems the manufacturers are starting to figure out.

    Climate change or not, don’t really care what you believe, it is cheaper to produce electricity than it is to produce gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “I know most on here don’t care of EV vs ICE, but the writing is on the wall”

      Short of totalitarian moves by our government or a significant geopolitical event, not even close.

      “it is cheaper to produce electricity than it is to produce gasoline.”

      Nuclear is about 20% of the grid, there are 98 commercial reactors in operation, with one new one online and two under construction. However nearly every one of the 98 reactors is halfway through or at the end of it’s service life. Wind and solar cannot replace their output, its essentially mathematically impossible. How can you reconcile losing 20% of the grid with no replacement while spinning up EV infrastructure?

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    I don’t think the corporate statement quoted here could have been any more corporate if it was itself incorporated by Corporate-Speak, Incorporated.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I don’t know – they left out the word “impactful”, my least favorite corporate-speak word.

      • 0 avatar
        EGSE

        And where is “stakeholder”? You know, the people that were let go and as Hummer pointed out, will probably get boned again.

        Yeah, reading what they wrote made me roll up my pants legs. It’s too late to save your shoes.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      They’re driving solutions across the enterprise, that’s for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      You need a Master’s in bovine excrement to understand it!

      What is with the updated interface on this site? It doesn’t jump to a new comment when you add it, it has the Load More button! Is VS trying to make it as difficult as possible to comment??!!

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        VS is majority owned by Torstar, the Toronto Star newspaper outfit. And it’s sliding down the tubes fast.

        The redone TTAC site must have been done by someone without any commonsense clue, someone who hasn’t actually used the site or used forums in general. It’s like the nerds Google and the rest use to program autonomous cars — non-drivers without a clue as to the real world.

        If a comment is made, the refreshed page should come back to that new comment. Otherwise, how are you supposed to be able to edit it in the ridiculously short 5 minute time frame?

        Get someone on this travesty of a redone site! And redo the redone so it is properly renewed, or put it back to where it worked — yesterday.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “The collaboration also includes a joint development agreement that brings together two leaders in battery science to develop and produce advanced battery technologies, with the goal of reducing battery costs to industry-leading levels.”

    Two leaders in battery science? I see LG here, but who’s the other one?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I have to agree with 87 Morgan. The younger generations have very different approaches with respect towards mobility in general and automobiles in particular.

    I see that eventually the leading auto manufacturers will have a brisk portfolio of electric vehicles. The keyword here is eventually, my personal feeling is that the massive shift to electrification will take longer than expected.

    The real question would be: will GM hold long enough to continue to be part of those “leading automobile manufacturers”?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Steph, the new “Read all comments” needs some tweaking. You only get two comments by default, and if you post something, it reverts back to two comments again. Seems like overkill to me. Maybe make it ten comments to start, and not revert back if you post something?

  • avatar
    Lokki

    One of the problems I foresee is that once again, GM has taken the “Great Leap Forward” approach to a changing market. Frankly, the last time it worked for them (as far as I recall anyhow) was with the introduction of the OHV V-8 in the 1950’s. The Corvair*, the Toronado* , the Vega, the Citation, the Quad 4, the Northstar, the Volt… none have been commercial successes for GM. Current vehicles suggest that the GM designing their electric fleet is the same GM that ruined the Corvair by $3 per car on the suspension. This makes me at least hesitant to buy one of their EV’s from the first few years of sale. I can’t see Ford performing much better, as they found their “Quality is Job #1” slogan to be outdated some years ago (cough, Transmission Fiasco, cough). Still, Ford, GM, and VW are all going “Damn the Torpedos!

    I predict a short term (5-10 years) lack of buyers. Electric cars remain more expensive than ICE cars of the same capability, while regular gas is $2.598 at the National Average price, and is as low as $2.01 per gallon here in Dallas. Now toss in the hassle and expense of having a 220 charger installed in your garage, perhaps $1500 before you even bring the car home. So, between the higher cost of the car and the installation of the charger, you’ve got to save say, $4000 to $5000 on gasoline costs just to break even on expense. As for insurance, Tesla are more expensive to insure and given that other EV’s will probably mimic the same construction techniques their insurance costs probably will too. So I don’t see any instant incentive to switch to electric. Yes, yes, yes, EV’s will save money on maintenance but those are theoretical savings in the future, while the points I list above are real money out of your pocket, cash. Oh, and really how much money does the average new car buyer spend on maintenance in the first three years nowadays? A few oil changes at 10K intervals? New ICE cars are the valid comparator here as we’re comparing them to new EV’s.

    Now some will argue that young buyers are much more willing to accept EV’s, and that’s no doubt true. However, well, simply put, young buyers ain’t got no money. They are much more likely to be price aware and often buy used vehicles. Will those who can afford a new car be willing to pay the EV premium? Work with their landlords to have chargers installed at their apartment parking lots? I think all the under 40’s interviewed in Focus Groups who said they want an EV are exactly like all the young dudes who want Corvettes…while the average age of Corvette buyers is 61.

    Meanwhile you can still buy a nice reliable ICE Toyota, Honda, or Subaru, and I think that is what most buyers are going to do, even while the other showrooms are full of heavily discounted EVs.

    * Interestingly enough Apple Spellcheck does not recognize Toronado or Corvair as valid words. It knows Prius though, and Elantra.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    If the LG Chem batteries are as good as LG tv sets, they’ll be kickin butt.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      If LG would just put WebOS on their phones instead of Android that looks like it was skinned by a Chinese company a decade ago I’d be very happy.

      By far my favorite mobile OS on any Device I own. Unfortunately a 60 inch TV isn’t fitting in my pocket. Palm nailed that software. Too bad it was too late.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Hmm. A small startup electric truck maker now owns a 6.2-million-square-foot factory, which will sit mostly empty for years. Meanwhile, a large new plant is getting built at a greenfield site within miles of the old factory. This seems very wasteful.

    If I lived in Lordstown, I would be glad to see some jobs returning. But I would be very saddened, to see maybe 250 acres of woodland and farmland ruined forever, while a massive industrial park molders nearby.

  • avatar
    boxcarclassic

    just curious why is my comment waiting moderation? It was posted hours ago!

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