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On Tuesday, GM and Samsung SDI declared their collaboration to establish a joint venture dedicated to battery production. According to the announcement, the joint venture will begin with an investment of over $3 billion and will not initially manufacture batteries to replace or enhance the Ultium cell strategy developed with LG, as stated by the companies.
As per the statement, the upcoming facility will produce prismatic and cylindrical batteries with a high concentration of nickel, which will deliver exceptional performance and will only be provided to GM’s forthcoming electric vehicles. These batteries’ structure will be distinct from the considerably larger pouch cells being developed and produced by Ultium Cells LLC in the three plants under development by GM.
The cylindrical cells have the potential to be seamlessly integrated into vehicles with lower profiles compared to large-format pouch cells. This makes them ideal for high-performance electric cars and aerodynamically efficient sedans. GM has already confirmed the development of an electric Corvette, and this technology could also be used in a future electric Camaro replacement.
Once the new factory is operational, it will have a capacity of over 30 gigawatt-hours, with mass production commencing in 2026. This shift in format is not unexpected, as GM stated in January that the Ultium platform is adaptable to pouch, prismatic, or cylindrical cells. Additionally, GM has already incorporated prismatic cells into several Ultium-based vehicles for the Chinese market, such as the Cadillac Lyriq.
Earlier today, GM verified that the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV models will be terminated by the end of 2023, as the Orion Assembly facility in Michigan switches to electric truck production. Meanwhile, GM and Honda are collaborating on a joint architecture for economical EVs, which will be supported by the next-generation Ultium battery technology, to develop a substitute for the Bolt. This development seems unrelated to the current announcement.
According to sources, the new joint-venture facility with Samsung is expected to replace one of the four Ultium Cells facilities, which is a GM partnership with LG. The Associated Press reported that the decision to replace the facility was partly due to the defective batteries in the Chevrolet Bolt, which led to a recall due to fire concerns. Although LG compensated GM for approximately $1.9 billion for the issue, it played a role in the decision to opt for a new joint venture with Samsung.
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