GM has announced a significant investment in advanced battery materials Mitra Chem, serving as a major contributor to a $60 million investment round as it seeks to develop new sources of affordable EV batteries.
The materials Mitra Chem intends to develop are compatible with the GM Ultium battery technology used to power The General’s lineup of all-electric vehicles, both present and planned.
In particular, GM wants its partnership with Mitra Chem to focus on materials like lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) that can be used to make cathodes for EV batteries. The iron-based cathode active materials (CAM) will “accelerate our work on affordable battery chemistries,” GM technology VP Gil Golan claims.
Golan added that “GM is accelerating larger investments in critical subdomains of battery technology, like cell chemistry, components and advanced cell production processes” and noted that Mitra Chem’s work meshes well with The General’s own research projects. Mitra Chem is using AI and machine learning to accelerate its development cycle, hoping to get a jump on competitors.
GM intends its investment to specifically fund Mitra Chem’s expansion of its operations to bigger scales, meaning the affordable advanced battery materials will arrive sooner. Mitra claims its processes and methods cut “the lab-to-production timeline by over 90 percent.”
GM has been aggressive in its pursuit of increased North American production of EV battery materials, the necessary prerequisite for building the batteries themselves. Back in late spring 2023, GM made a deal with another partner, POSCO Future M, to jointly invest $1 billion in a new CAM and precursor plant capable of producing cathode materials for 360,000 EVs per year.
The automaker is also expanding the GM CAMI Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada to add 400,000 square feet of working space for battery assembly. The facility will start assembling battery packs for up to 400,000 EVs annually starting in Q2 2024 – provided GM can obtain enough EV battery materials to keep its Ultium Cells plants operating at full capacity.
The battery materials technology Mitra Chem is developing looks to iron-based solutions for sustainable and affordable results because, as the company puts it, more exotic materials like cobalt and nickel “are facing imminent supply crunches.”
Meanwhile, GM hopes to reach annual EV sales of over 1 million units total by 2025 in North America and China combined.