GM, Samsung SDI plan to build EV battery plant in US -sources

By David Shepardson and Heekyong Yang

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) -General Motors Co and Samsung SDI are set to announce as early as Tuesday they plan to build a joint venture electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in the U.S., as the automaker diversifies its component suppliers, sources said.

An announcement would come as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is in Washington to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Yoon, who has made business opportunities a cornerstone of his foreign policy visits, is accompanied on the U.S. visit by more than 100 executives from South Korea’s biggest companies, including Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Jay Y. Lee and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung.

GM is diversifying its battery vendors to better secure capacity of the crucial components to support its electrification goals, as the Detroit-based company attempts to catch up with Tesla Inc.

Reuters reported in January that GM and LG Energy Solution would not move forward with a fourth U.S. battery manufacturing plant. GM and LG Energy Solution are building a $2.6 billion plant in Michigan, set to open in 2024, one of three joint venture Ultium Cells LLC plants.

The new GM-Samsung SDI plant is expected to cost more than the Michigan battery plant, the sources said, but no location will be immediately announced.

GM and Samsung SDI did not comment.

“GM and LG Energy Solution have agreed on building three battery JV plants in the United States, and we would also likely have more than one battery JV plant with GM in the United States to better meet GM’s EV battery demand and electrification goals,” a Samsung SDI source, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media, told Reuters.

The source added that the two companies are considering having a couple of battery JV plants in North America.

In August, GM and LG Energy Solution’s joint venture said it was considering a site in New Carlisle, Indiana, for a fourth U.S. battery plant. In January, Reuters reported that GM and a new partner could still pick that Indiana site for a battery plant.

GM said last year it expects to build 400,000 EVs in North America from 2022 through mid-2024 and increase capacity to 1 million units annually in North America in 2025. Sources said GM is considering whether it will eventually need at least two additional EV plants to meet future EV demand.

South Korean media reported the potential GM-Samsung SDI announcement in early March.

In May 2022, Stellantis NV and Samsung SDI announced they would invest more than $2.5 billion to build a new joint venture battery plant in Kokomo, Indiana. Stellantis and LG Energy Solution said in 2022 they would invest $4.1 billion for a joint venture battery plant in Canada.

In 2022, Biden, during a visit to Samsung in South Korea, urged the companies to “enter into partnerships” with “American union members” and said joint ventures “that manufacture electric vehicle batteries would be made stronger by collective bargaining relationships” with U.S. unions.

Shares of Samsung SDI rose as much as 1.6% on Tuesday morning versus the benchmark KOSPI’s 0.1% gain.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Heekyong Yang in Seoul; Editing by David Gregorio, Matthew Lewis and Muralikumar Anantharaman)