GM says it has enough EV battery raw materials to hit 2025 production target

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. now has deals in place to source all of the raw materials it needs for the electric-vehicle batteries to meet a 2025 goal of having 1 million units of annual EV capacity in North America, the Detroit automaker said.

In releasing its second-quarter earnings results Tuesday, GM announced three new binding supply agreements as the automaker — along with some of its competitors — increasingly moves to localize its supply chains for EV components and raw materials.

The first of the new agreements is with LG Chem, which will supply GM with 968,000 tons of cathode active material, or CAM, through 2030. That's enough to support production of roughly 5 million EVs, GM said. 

The CAM supply outlined in the agreement will go to plants in Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan operated by Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solutions. The first of the Ultium Cells plants, located in Warren, Ohio, is slated to come online in August.

The cathode materials LG Chem will supply include nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum. The materials will be used to make battery cells for EVs built on GM's proprietary Ultium platform.

GM and LG Chem also said they will "explore" establishing a CAM plant in North America by the end of 2025.

“This agreement builds on GM’s commitment to create a strong, sustainable battery raw material supply chain to support our fast-growing EV production needs,” Jeff Morrison, GM's vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, said in a statement.

The second deal announced Tuesday is a six-year supply agreement, beginning in 2025, with Philadelphia-based lithium company Livent.

Livent will supply GM with battery-grade lithium hydroxide made primarily from lithium extracted at Livent's brine-based operations in South America, according to a news release, but over the course of the agreement will supply more from its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Eventually, the company plans to transition all of its "downstream" lithium hydroxide processing for GM to North America.

The supply of lithium hydroxide will be used in the automaker's Ultium battery cathodes.

“We will further localize the lithium supply chain in North America over the course of the agreement," Morrison said in a statement. "In addition, it is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management and demonstrates our commitment to strong supplier relationships.”

The Detroit automaker also said it had struck a deal with POSCO Chemical to supply CAM from POSCO's Korean operations from 2023 to 2025.

The agreements are just the latest GM has struck in its bid to shore up its EV supply chains as it pursues an ambitious electrification strategy that includes have a fully zero-emissions lineup by 2035 and introducing some 30 electric nameplates globally by 2025.

Last week, crosstown rival Ford Motor Co. detailed its strategy for securing EV batteries and the raw materials needed to make them. The Dearborn automaker said it has secured 100% of the battery capacity it needs to hit annual EV production capacity of 600,000 units by the end of next year, and 70% of the capacity needed to produce 2 million EVs annually by the end of 2026.

The Blue Oval also detailed numerous deals the company has struck to secure raw materials.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski