GM joint venture Ultium plant in Ohio begins battery cell production

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Ultium Cells LLC has started production of battery cells at its first manufacturing operation in Warren, Ohio, General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution joint venture company confirmed Wednesday. 

For competitive reasons, what date production launched was not specified but Ultium Cells spokesperson Brooke Waid confirmed it started in August. The plant will supply battery cells for GM’s Ultium platform-based EVs, including the GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV built at Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center. 

Mike Kelecava and Ryan Miely inspect a battery cell as it proceeds through the cell assembly line at the Ultium Cells LLC plant in Warren, Ohio.

GM and LG invested $2.3 billion in the Warren, Ohio, facility that has more than 40 gigawatt hours of annual capacity with room for expansion.

GM and other automakers are vertically integrating battery cell production to help lower the cost of their batteries and electric vehicles. The start of Ultium battery cell production brings GM closer to its electrification goals since it needs additional supply to make and sell more EVs. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine went to the plant Wednesday to see the cell manufacturing process performed by a team of more than 800 workers. At full production, the facility will have 1,300 employees.

Since the plant was formed by a joint venture, the workers there are not represented by the United Auto Workers and covered by the national contract the union has with GM. Union leadership is pushing to organize the plants and recently expressed frustration about pushback from Ultium.

In a Wednesday statement, UAW President Ray Curry said: "We have been in ongoing conversations with General Motors and Ultium, as we are with other employers building products in the sectors that we represent. The UAW believes that employers should respect the majority will of workers and that is why we demand card check and neutrality in organizing campaigns.”

Last year, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes told The Detroit News: "There's no doubt in our mind that we are going to represent those workers."

GM spokesperson David Barnas said in a statement Wednesday:"We are supportive of the process that allows workers to determine their representation. We have always had a productive working relationship with the UAW and would expect that to continue if and when the Ultium employees determine representation status.”

Battery cells proceed through the end-of-the-line formation process at the Ultium Cells LLC plant in Warren, Ohio.

The automaker wants to produce more than 1 million EVs in North America by 2025.

Ultium is building four battery plants in the U.S. Other locations include a site near Lansing and one in Spring Hill, Tennessee, next to an electric-vehicle manufacturing plant there that produces the Cadillac Lyriq. 

GM and LG are considering New Carlisle, Indiana, as the location of their fourth planned battery cell plant. Ultium Cells has submitted a tax abatement application with St. Joseph County, which includes New Carlisle. 

khall@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @bykaleahall