Electric vehicles

December was an EV battery announcement bonanza

And a lot more activity is on the horizon as automakers ramp up EV plans.
article cover


· 4 min read

December has been a big month for battery-making in the US.

Automakers are rolling out their plans to ramp up EV production, and that means they all need more lithium-ion batteries. A lot more.

These planned battery facilities are important as the US tries to bolster its EV supply chain. In June, the US Department of Energy issued a blueprint for domestic lithium-battery production and found that the US had less than 10% of the global manufacturing capacity for battery components and cells.

Today battery plants in the US have a production capacity of 57 gigawatt hours, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. By 2030, new battery facilities are expected to bring the domestic total to more than 700 gigawatt hours from 21 plants.

  • UK–based EV maker Arrival is planning a small battery module assembly plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company announced on Dec. 6. Arrival will spend $11.5 million on the microfactory—one of 31 microfactories that it hopes to build by 2024. The Charlotte plant is slated to begin production in the third quarter of 2022 and should be able to provide 350,000 battery modules annually for Arrival’s commercial EVs.
  • Toyota is also building in North Carolina. On Dec. 6, the Japanese automaker announced a $1.29 billion battery facility outside of Greensboro that will begin production in 2025. Toyota plans to spend $3.4 billion on automotive battery development and manufacturing in the US over the next decade. This plant should be able to produce batteries for about 800,000 EVs per year when it comes online.
  • Last week, Rivian revealed plans for a $5 billion EV manufacturing site that will include a battery-cell production facility outside Atlanta. The company has not yet shared details about battery manufacturing goals, but aims to build 400,000 EVs per year there when it comes online in 2024.

But before batteries…

To meet ambitious EV sales goals, automakers are facing the task of building out a supply chain that is not yet established—and that goes beyond just manufacturing batteries.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew informs business leaders about the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts and more to help them make smart decisions.

“Two years ago, they weren’t even thinking about batteries,” Simon Moores, CEO of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, told us of OEMs earlier this month. “They are thinking about batteries now, which is good. But they’re still not thinking about raw materials.”

So far, Tesla is the only company that is planning for the entire supply chain, he explained then. But two legacy automakers trying to close the gap with Tesla have made investments upstream recently.

On Dec. 1, GM announced that it plans to build a new cathode facility in North America in a joint venture with South Korea’s Posco Chemical. This plant will process the materials that go into a battery’s cathode and supply the battery-cell manufacturing facilities GM is currently building in Ohio and Tennessee.

  • In July, GM also made a deal to source the lithium for its batteries from a US mining operation—though the project, which aims to pull lithium from geothermal brines in California’s Salton Sea, is not expected to begin production until 2024.

In Europe, Volkswagen is investing heavily in the battery supply chain. The company announced at the beginning of December that it plans to spend $34 billion on new battery plants and the raw materials they will require. VW aims to build six battery facilities in Europe by 2030 and this month reached agreements with recycling company Umicore, lithium-mining company Vulcan Energy Resources, and battery startup 24M that will help the automaker across the battery ecosystem.

Looking ahead: Don’t expect battery investment to slow down in the US as both business and government leaders look to shore up the EV supply chain. The federal infrastructure bill passed in November includes $7 billion in grants for the raw materials, manufacturing facilities, and recycling operations needed to grow battery production domestically.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew informs business leaders about the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts and more to help them make smart decisions.