The Department of Energy announced on Monday that it had finalized a $2.5 billion loan to Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture of General Motors and LG Energy Solutions. The company plans to build factories in Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee for construction of lithium-ion battery cells for electric vehicles.
"This loan will jumpstart the domestic battery cell production needed to reduce our reliance on other countries to meet increased demand and support President Biden's goals of widespread EV adoption and cutting carbon pollution produced by gas-powered vehicles," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The federal dollars will be added to the billions in private funds that GM and LG are investing in the projects. The venture, which is expected to create over 11,000 new jobs, includes an Ohio plant with more than 700 workers who recently voted to unionize.
According to the department, the Ultium project is expected to require 6,000 construction jobs in building the facilities and 5,100 jobs for their operation.
On Dec. 9, workers at Ultium's facility in Lordstown, Ohio, voted 710-16 in favor of joining the United Auto Workers union. President Joe Biden released a statement praising the decision, saying, "American and union workers can and will lead the world in manufacturing once again."
The Energy Department also said that investment in the Ultium project aligns with Biden's goal of having the United States achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, which means reducing greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere as much as possible to fight global climate change, according to the United Nations.
Reducing emissions is also a part of the Paris Agreement on reducing global temperature rise. The United States withdrew from the agreement under former President Donald Trump, but rejoined in February 2021 under Biden.
In December 2021, Biden signed an executive order directing the federal government to work toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, in part by mandating the transition of the government vehicle pool, consisting of 600,000 cars and trucks, to zero-emission vehicles.
Biden has also prioritized federal investments in U.S.-based manufacturing of batteries, such as the Ultium project, to create a supply chain of parts for electric vehicles that are manufactured domestically, without reliance on foreign production of most of the components.
In a statement announcing the investment program in October, the White House noted: "China currently controls much of the critical mineral supply chain and the lack of mining, processing, and recycling capacity in the U.S. could hinder electric vehicle development and adoption, leaving the U.S. dependent on unreliable foreign supply chains."
The Biden administration has made strategic investments to initiate production of those components within the United States. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act includes tax credits for consumers purchasing electric vehicles made with American-produced components.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.