General Motors has stated that it will have the capacity to create one million electric vehicles in North America by 2025, but a delayed ramp-up of its three U.S. battery operations could limit actual EV production to less than 600,000 by mid-decade, according to a forecast and study by experts.
Building more than 500,000 EVs in North America by 2025 “will be difficult, based on (GM’s) planned battery production” at plants in Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan, according to Sam Fiorani, head of global vehicle forecasting at Pennsylvania-based AutoForecast Solutions (AFS), a widely consulted industry research and analytics firm.
“We have not changed our targets,” GM spokesman Jim Cain said. Those targets include cumulative EV production of 400,000 from early 2022 through mid-2024, a revised goal that CEO Mary Barra reiterated earlier this year.
“We believe GM’s targets are hittable despite hurdles to get there,” Wedbush auto analyst Dan Ives said.
GM has not set precise EV production objectives for North America between 2024 and 2025.
Ultium Cells, a joint venture between General Motors and Korea’s LG Energy Solution, has built its first facility in Warren, Ohio, with a second plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, set to begin production in early 2024, and a third in Lansing, Michigan, set to open in early 2025.
Almost all of GM’s new EVs in North America are designed to use Ultium battery packs developed in collaboration with LGES and manufactured at one of three U.S. sites.
According to GM, these three plants will have a combined annual capacity of at least 135 gigatonne-hours (GWh), enough to supply at least 1.35 million EVs each year.
However, because to the scattered beginning schedules and gradual ramp, AFS estimates that the three battery plants will be able to generate just 58 GWh of cells, or enough to serve around 550,000 vehicles.
“Limitations on that battery capacity make higher vehicle production targets difficult to reach,” Fiorani said, adding that GM’s projected EV volumes could also be constricted by the company’s ability to secure sufficient raw materials for batteries.
GM claimed to have secured sufficient supplies of battery raw materials, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and cathode active material, in July 2022. This was in order to meet its target of producing 1 million EVs annually in North America by 2025.
The broad worldwide battery materials supply chain for GM includes partnerships, offtake agreements, and investments with more than 20 businesses, including powerhouses like Glencore, Livent, Posco Chemical, LG Chem, and Lithium Americas.
Even after 2025, some of those partnerships may not result in a flow of materials because major markets are seeing an increase in investments and production plans for future EVs by major automakers.
According to AFS, GM’s North American EV production goals beyond 2025 “will continue to push the limits” of its battery plants, including a newly announced fourth factory with a new partner Samsung SDI, which isn’t anticipated to launch until 2026.
Despite GM’s ambitious predictions for EV manufacturing in the second half of the decade, “accessing the components and materials necessary for that growth will become increasingly difficult,” according to the forecasting firm.
AFS currently anticipates that GM will produce roughly 76,000 EVs in North America this year and 328,000 in 2024.
This year, GM’s Chevrolet brand aims to introduce a number of new electric vehicles, including the Equinox, Blazer, and Silverado EV pickups. Later this year, it will stop producing the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV.
Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV production has still not been fully ramped up by GM. In the first quarter, it only shipped 968 Lyriqs and two Hummer pickups.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)
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