No matter how many Super Bowl commercials you run about your EV lineup, no matter how much you talk about your EV leadership, you can only sell as many EVs as you have batteries lined up for. That seems simple enough, right? The thing is, there’s a supply crunch not just for batteries, but also for the stuff that goes into the batteries, most famously lithium. That supply crunch is only expected to grow in the coming decade.
A few years ago, in interviews about the EV revolution, battery experts started ringing alarm bells for us. They emphasized that there could be no disruptive, exponential EV adoption curve if there wasn’t much more movement in the lithium extraction and processing space. The key problem: it takes years to develop a lithium mine; no automakers were going to lock in orders for batteries or for battery supplies 7–10 years ahead of time; and without locked-in orders, greatly expanding lithium extraction and processing was going to have to wait. It was a conundrum. The plea was thus: automakers, invest in mines, or lock in orders with mining companies. GM got the memo.
The latest news from GM is that it has signed a deal with Lithium Americas to get lithium sourced from the United States — a $650 million deal. They are investing together in the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, with GM putting a $650 million equity investment into the lithium firm. If that name rings a bell, it’s probably because Thacker Pass is “the largest known source of lithium in the United States and the third largest in the world.” Hello, EV revolution!
Thacker Pass will be used in GM’s proprietary Ultium battery cells,” the Michigan-based automaker writes. “GM is launching a broad portfolio of trucks, SUVs, luxury vehicles and light commercial vehicles using the Ultium Platform, including the GMC HUMMER EV Pickup and SUV, GMC Sierra EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Cadillac CELESTIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Equinox EV, BrightDrop Zevo 400 and BrightDrop Zevo 600.”
The companies estimate that 1,000 construction jobs and 500 operational jobs will be created by this new Lithium Americas Thacker Pass development, while 6,000 construction jobs and 5,000 operational jobs are expected for the first three (of four) Ultium Cells factories. “GM is currently building EVs in two Michigan plants, one Tennessee plant and one Ontario plant, and its suppliers are investing to create a robust North America-focused supply chain for EV raw materials, processed material and components, with major projects under way in California, Texas, Ohio and Quebec.”
This is the “Green Economy” President Obama touted 15 years ago. It’s a core of the US manufacturing resurgence President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have been fighting for as part of the cleantech revolution. And it keeps US companies and the USA as a whole from becoming too dependent on foreign entities. This is leadership the United States has been needing.
Source: Clean Technica