Ultium Cells Warren, Ohio. November 2021. Image by Ultium Cells LLC

General Motors needs about 950,000 tons of cathode active materials (CAM) to reach its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2040. To get the 950,000 tons necessary to build electric vehicle batteries for the vehicles, the company has partnered with premier South Korean battery-making firm, LG Chem. The partnership will lock down a strong CAM supply later this year, primarily for the ultium cells battery factories in Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan.

Jeff Morrison, GM Vice President of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, said in a statement, “This agreement builds on GM’s commitment to create a strong, sustainable battery raw material supply chain to support our fast-growing EV production needs.”

CAM is about 40% of the cost of a battery cell and contains active materials like processed nickel, lithium, and other materials. Usually, EV battery cathodes are made with NCM (nickel, cobalt, and magnesium). Cobalt is a material necessary for EV battery production but is nicknamed the ‘blood diamond of batteries’ because of how expensive the material is, and the inhuman ways mining companies treat their workers.

Large EV companies like Tesla are scrambling to find ways to create cobalt-free batteries. Some companies, like General Motors, have made batteries with other ingredients like aluminum. General Motors will have enough battery material by 2030 to power at least 5 million electric vehicles. By 2025, GM hopes to spend $30 billion to create 30 new plug-in models to compete against Tesla.


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