General Motors needs a lot of cathode active materials (CAM) if it is to achieve its goal of making enough electric vehicles by 2040 to be a completely carbon neutral company. How much is enough? How about 950,000 tons of the stuff.
GM now says it has reached a deal with LG Chem, one of South Korea’s largest battery makers, to secure delivery of CAM later this year. CAM is basically what makes a battery a battery, made up of components such as processed nickel, lithium and other materials, and represents about 40 percent of the total cost of a battery cell.
Most EV battery cathodes are made with NCM: nickel, cobalt, and magnesium. cobalt is an important part in this mixbut it is also the most expensive material in the battery and mined under conditions that often violate human rights, making it the ‘blood diamond of batteries’. As a result, GM and other companies like Tesla are rushing to create a cobalt-free battery. For example, GM’s Ultium batteries will add aluminum — turning the mix into NCMA — and reduce the cobalt content by 70 percent.
LG Chem will begin supplying CAM to the automaker from the second half of 2022 and through 2030. GM says this will be enough battery material to power approximately 5 million electric vehicles, which should help the company in its quest. to overtake Tesla.
GM has said it plans to spend $30 billion on the creation of 30 new plug-in models by 2025 in its bid to overtake Elon Musk’s company as the world’s leading EV company. Tesla still dominates the relatively small EV market in the US, with about 66 percent market share, while GM only has about 6 percent. In fact, this year, the company was surpassed by old car rivals such as Ford and Hyundai, according to CNBC.
In a furious effort to catch up and become more vertically integrated, GM is trying to get a better handle on its supply chain, including battery manufacturing. The company has said it will spend more than $4 billion building two battery plants in North America in partnership with South Korea’s LG Chem.
GM said today that it will also explore the localization of a CAM manufacturing facility with LG Chem by the end of 2025. Earlier, the company announced that it will build a new cathode plant in North America in a joint venture with South Korea’s Posco Chemical.
The company also recently struck a deal to source lithium, a key ingredient in electric car batteries, from geothermal deposits in the US. And it is building a new 300,000-square-foot battery research facility in Michigan to help it achieve its mission of building electric vehicle batteries that last longer, charge faster and are more environmentally sustainable.