South Korea’s LG Chem may have a massive investment ready for the U.S. The company is reportedly looking at building a second battery plant in the U.S. to meet global demand for batteries as more automakers start to adopt electric powertrains.
Reuters reported the news Thursday and cited sources close to the matter that said a decision will come by the end of this month. LG Chem batteries are found in the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The company also supplies numerous components for Chevy’s electric car. Other LG Chem clients include Volkswagen Group and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. A new battery plant would also potentially supply units for Hyundai Motor Group.
The investment is reportedly a large sum of $1.7 billion with Kentucky and Tennessee leading candidates for the plant to call home. Production at the proposed plant would start in 2022—just as GM finishes rolling out its 20 new electric cars by 2023. Next up for GM is another Chevy electric car, likely a crossover based on the Bolt EV. Then, a Cadillac electric SUV will come early next decade. We also know GM is actively working on an electric pickup truck. All of these cars need batteries at scale, which makes a new battery plant seem more likely.
LG Chem did not comment directly on the potential battery plant in the U.S. but said it’s reviewing ways to meet the growing demand for batteries. Automakers continue to rush and secure supply as the chain begins to bottleneck.
Although electric vehicle sales are paltry today, that’s not expected to be the case in the near future. By 2026, IHS Markit forecasts EVs will tally 1.28 million sales compared to the 200,000 EVs sold in 2018. In the meantime, automakers and companies are working to expand public charging infrastructure and find the range sweet spot to make drivers most comfortable.