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By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - General Motors Co and LG Energy Solution Ltd said Friday they are investing another $275 million in their Tennessee joint venture battery cell plant to increase production by more than 40%.
The new investment in the Ultium Cells Spring Hill plant will boost battery output from an annual capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours to 50 GWh, when the plant is operational in late 2023. It is one of at least four U.S. joint venture battery plants planned to supply GM electric vehicles as the largest U.S. automaker ramps up production.
The new investment follows $2.3 billion announced in April 2021 and will add another 400 jobs. The factory will employ 1,700 workers when fully operational.
The first Ultium joint venture plant in Warren, Ohio began production in August. Workers next week at the $2.3 billion Ohio plant will vote whether to unionize after the United Auto Workers (UAW) petitioned to represent about 900 workers.
GM and LG Energy are also considering an Indiana site for a fourth U.S. battery plant expected to cost around $2.4 billion. They are also building a $2.6 billion battery cell plant in Lansing, Michigan, set to open in 2024.
Ultium Cells expects to have more than 130 GWh of battery cell capacity when the three announced facilities are at full production capacity later this decade.
In July, the U.S. Energy Department said it intends to loan Ultium $2.5 billion to help finance new lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facilities. An announcement that the loan could be finalized could occur as early as this month, officials said.
President Joe Biden wants 50% of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to be EV or plug-in hybrid models, but has not endorsed California’s regulation adopted in August to phase out new gas-only-powered light-duty vehicles by 2035. GM plans to only sell electric vehicles by 2035. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Anna Driver)