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GM, LG Chem announce EV battery joint venture in Lordstown, Ohio

Reuters

SEOUL/WASHINGTON — General Motors and South Korea's LG Chem said on Thursday they would invest up to $2.3 billion in by 2023 to set up an electric vehicle battery joint venture in Lordstown, Ohio.

GM issued an announcement Thursday. An LG Chem spokesman confirmed an earlier Reuters report on the joint venture, but declined to give details.

GM said the state-of-the-art plant would create more than 1,100 jobs. Sources said workers at the plant were expected to be represented by the United Auto Workers union and earn in the range of $15 to $17 an hour.

The plant will go into a "greenfield manufacturing site" that would break ground in mid-2020, rather than in portions of the shuttered GM Lordstown Assembly complex. Last month, GM sold that plant to the start-up Lordstown Motors, which plans to begin building electric pickup trucks there by the end of 2020.

A GM-LG plant could be the first unionized battery factory in the United States. Tesla’s factory and LG Chem’s battery factory in Michigan do not have unions.

Batteries from the plant will power future GM electric vehicles, including an electric pickup expected in 2021.

“With this investment, Ohio and its highly capable workforce will play a key role in our journey toward a world with zero emissions,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “Combining our manufacturing expertise with LG Chem’s leading battery-cell technology will help accelerate our pursuit of an all-electric future. We look forward to collaborating with LG Chem on future cell technologies that will continue to improve the value we deliver to our customers.”

Ohio has become a lightning rod in the 2020 presidential election after GM announced in November 2018 plans to close its car manufacturing plant in Lordstown, drawing condemnation from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The plant’s closure was one issue during a lengthy strike by GM workers.

GM had said in September it planned to bring battery cell production to the Lordstown area, while Reuters first reported in July that LG Chem was considering its second U.S. factory with production slated to start in 2022.

LG’s second plant would make modular batteries for multiple GM vehicles, including a future Cadillac EV, a second source told Reuters.