By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A General Motors and LG Energy Solution $2.3 billion joint venture battery production plant in Ohio has begun production.
The 2.8-million square foot Ultium Cells LLC plant is the first of at least four plants planned in the U.S. by the joint venture to supply GM electric vehicles.
The Warren plant, which was announced in 2019, has more than 800 employees and is preparing to further ramp up production, Ultium said. Ultium said it plans to have 1,300 workers by next year when it reaches full capacity.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine toured the Ultium plant on Wednesday and earlier this week made a push for Honda and LG Energy to locate a planned $4.4 billion battery plant in the state.
United Auto Workers President Ray Curry said in a statement the union has "been in ongoing conversations with General Motors and Ultium, as we are with other employers building products in the sectors that we represent."
Curry added "UAW believes that employers should respect the majority will of workers and that is why we demand card check and neutrality in organizing campaigns."
GM has previously expressed support for efforts by the UAW to organize Ultium's battery plants.
Earlier this month, GM and LG Energy said they were considering a site in New Carlisle, Indiana for a fourth U.S. battery cell manufacturing plant expected to cost around $2.4 billion.
In January, GM and LG announced a $2.6 billion investment to build a new battery cell plant in Lansing, Michigan set to open in late 2024.
Ultium is also building a $2.3 billion plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee to be completed by the end of 2023.
Last month, the U.S. Energy Department said it would loan Ultium $2.5 billion to help finance construction of battery cell manufacturing plants in Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan.
Legislation signed this month by President Joe Biden imposes new sourcing rules on battery components and critical minerals that take effect Jan. 1 for EVs to be eligible for $7,500 tax credits.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chris Reese)