Eye on Lithium: GM expanding battery manufacturing capacity

Eye on Lithium: GM expanding battery manufacturing capacity

The drive towards building greater energy storage capacity has been underscored again by General Motors and Samsung SDI announcing a joint investment of over US$3bn for the construction of new battery cell manufacturing plant in the US.

This planned plant, which will start operations in 2026, will have more than 30 gigawatt hours of capacity and will increase GM’s total US battery cell capacity to about 160GWh when it is at full production.

GM and Samsung will jointly operate the plant, which will have production lines to build nickel-rich prismatic and cylindrical cells.

Chief executive officer and chair Mary Barra said GM’s supply chain strategy for EVs is focused on scalability, resiliency, sustainability and cost-competitiveness.

“The cells we will build together will help us scale our EV capacity in North America well beyond 1 million units annually,” she added.

GM added that the introduction of new cell form factors will allow the car manufacturing giant the ability to expand into more segments faster and integrate cells directly into battery packs to reduce weight, complexity and costs.

Signs of lithium demand improvement?

While lithium chemical prices in China continue to fall with the carbonate price down 5.6% to US$27,050 per tonne and hydroxide down 11.8% to US$34,225/t in the assessment period from 19 April to 26 April, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence flagged that the market might be turning.

It noted that some major cell manufacturers have reported that their order volumes have started to improve month-on-month, to the extent that sales now exceed production.

Likewise, while bulk buyers in the market remained cautious about making large purchases, sentiment amongst Chinese traders improved in response to bullish signals on futures trading platforms.

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