GM to spend nearly $7B on EV, battery plants in Michigan

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Posted at 6:03 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 18:24:00-05

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — General Motors is making the largest investment in company history in its home state of Michigan, announcing plans to spend nearly $7 billion to convert a factory to make electric pickup trucks and to build a new battery cell plant.

The moves, announced Tuesday in the state capital of Lansing, will create up to 4,000 jobs and keep another 1,000 already employed at an underutilized assembly plant north of Detroit.

The automaker plans to spend up to $4 billion converting and expanding its Orion Township assembly factory to make electric pickups and $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion building a third U.S. battery cell plant with a joint-venture partner in Lansing.

Michigan’s economic development board on Tuesday approved $824 million in incentives and assistance for Detroit-based GM. The package was unveiled and authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board. It includes a $600 million grant to GM and Ultium Cells, the venture between the carmaker and LG Energy Solution, and a $158 million tax break for Ultium. The board also approved $66.1 million to help a local electric utility and township upgrade infrastructure at the battery factory site.

Both factories are scheduled to start producing in about two years, as GM rolls the dice on whether Americans will be willing to convert from internal combustion engines to battery power.

President Joe Biden released this statement after the announcement.

"Today’s announcement by GM – to make its largest investment ever, $7 billion to create 4,000 new jobs at EV manufacturing sites in Michigan – is the latest sign that my economic strategy is helping power an historic American manufacturing comeback. From day one, my Administration has been laser focused on making sure that America leads the manufacturing future of electric vehicles. This announcement is just the latest in over $100 billion of investment this past year in American auto manufacturing to build electric vehicles and batteries. Over the last year, I hosted the United Auto Workers and automakers at the White House, signed an executive order aimed at getting to 50% electric vehicle sales share in 2030, and set ambitious new standards. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was a major step toward this future by investing in EV charging, and Congress can catalyze more with additional incentives for Made in America electric vehicles, batteries, and semi-conductors built by union hands."

The announcement is a critical win for Michigan, which lost out on Ford Motor Co.'s $11 billion investment in three battery plants and a new vehicle assembly plant that went to Kentucky and Tennessee.

GM President Mark Reuss said it made sense for GM to locate the battery factory near its large manufacturing footprint in Michigan. The company's ability to quickly convert existing factories such as Orion to build solely electric vehicles is a competitive advantage over companies that need to costly build brand new plants, he said.

“We're going to take advantage of that from an assembly plant standpoint, and then we're going to put the new cell plants in the proximity to supply that footprint,” Reuss said.

GM says it will build four battery cell factories in North America. The Lansing announcement is its third, but Reuss said more may be needed as the transition to electric vehicles continues. The location of the fourth plant has not been announced.

“We've said four for now, but the adoption rate is rapid,” Reuss said. The other battery plants are being built in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

In Michigan, officials realized the critical nature of winning the GM investment after Ford's announcement last year.

“The shift to electrification is truly revolutionary, and investment decisions being made now will have positive or detrimental impacts on regions for decades to come. The important of securing this investment to both the local and broader state economy cannot be overstated," state economic development officials wrote in a memo requesting the incentives. They are separate from locally approved incentives, including a special power rate for the battery plant and tax abatements.

GM and Ultium, they said, considered multiple states for the new battery factory.

GM CEO Mary Barra plans to announce the Michigan spending at a morning news conference near the Capitol with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state lawmakers and others.

The development came months after Michigan missed out on three Ford Motor Co. battery factories and an electric vehicle assembly plant that were placed in Kentucky and Tennessee. The governor and the Legislature recently set aside $1 billion to land major business projects, two-thirds of which is for the GM facilities.

GM has set a goal of selling only electric passenger vehicles by 2035.