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GM to build new battery facility in Warren to support its EV strategy

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 5, 2021
Jamie L. LaReau

General Motors is building a new innovation facility in Warren with the goal of growing the automaker’s battery technology and accelerating the development of longer range, more affordable EV batteries.

The new facility will be called the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center. It will be a 300,000 square-foot building on the grounds of the GM Global Technical Center campus.

There, engineers will work to advance technologies such as lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state batteries along with improving production methods that can be used at battery cell plants such as GM’s joint ventures with LG Energy Solution in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee, and other undisclosed locations.

“The key to making EVs affordable will be the cell cost in the battery packs,” said Ken Morris, GM vice president of electric and autonomous vehicles.

GM hopes to develop EV battery cells that can deliver 500 to 600 miles of range on a single charge and reduce the cost to make those batteries by 60% of what it currently costs from LG Chem to power the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV.

GM has said it will bring 30 new EVs to market by 2025 and aspires for all its light-duty vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2035. The first of the new EVs to come to market is the GMC Hummer EV pickup due out later this year. It will be built at Factory ZERO in Detroit and Hamtramck.

The cost savings GM hopes to get once engineers are working in the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center will be based on new cell designs GM expects to achieve, said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst of E-Mobility at Guidehouse Insights in Detroit.

“The new center will let GM prototype and test these and other types of cells, work out manufacturing processes, develop new chemistries,” Abuelsamid said. “If that all works out, you get to cheaper batteries with more energy density.”

Construction has started on the facility, Morris said. It is expected to be completed in the second to third quarter next year, when it will employ “hundreds” of engineers, he said. GM has been hiring software engineers since late last year and it will continue to do so, but he declined to provide exact figures of employment at the new facility.

The Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center, which will cost GM “hundreds of millions of dollars” to build, is named after long-time GM engineer Bill Wallace, who led GM teams on innovation in batteries and engineering until he died from cancer in 2018, Morris said.

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