Tesla isn’t the only company rushing into the electric automobile future. OK, maybe “rushing” is a little strong when the topic is General Motors. But the fact remains, just one day after getting approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers, work began to clear the land for its new battery manufacturing facility — somewhat grandly known as the GigaPower factory — on 158 acres in Mecca Township, Ohio, northwest of Youngstown.
The factory is a joint venture with LG Chem and is located next door to the former Lordstown factory sold last year to Lordstown Motors, which intends to build electric pickup trucks there. The land was previously owned by GM, which sold it in 2009 during the last Great Depression before buying it back prior to the current Great Depression.
According to a report by the Tribune Chronicle, GM expects the factory to be operational by January of 2022 and to employ 1,100 workers. When completed, it will be able to produce 30 GWh of battery cells annually — enough for 500,000 cars, according to an LG Chem press release.
Presumably, the GigaPower factory will manufacture the Ultium battery cells GM unveiled recently, saying they represented a breakthrough in battery technology. Some CleanTechnica readers have rather uncharitably said they are the same cells LG Chem supplies to several other manufacturers, but if GM wants to say it is a world leader in battery technology, who are we to complain?
At least the company is building a factory and planning to roll out a number of battery electric cars over the next few years. And those cells will also be used to power two battery electric cars that will be badged as Hondas, even though they will built on a GM chassis at a GM factory. Honda will have complete control over the stitching on the passenger seats, however.
The factory will actually be owned by the Western Reserve Port Authority, which will lease it to GigaPower LLC for a period of 5 years. Using the WRPA conduit will save the partners several million dollars in sales taxes on construction materials. When complete, the factory will contain 3.1 million square feet of manufacturing space and cost $2.25 billion — $5 million for the land, $608 million for the building, and more than $1.6 billion for machinery and equipment.
The project received final approval from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency just last week. “We have an aggressive schedule and we really appreciate the support we have received from the community and government agencies on this important project,” GM spokesman Dan Flores told the Tribune Chronicle.