General Motors has been planning an onslaught of EVs for years now, and many are expected to be affordable compared to rivals' models. Now, the Big Three automaker has secured a massive new deal to work alongside Lithium Americas in developing the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada, which is known to be the largest source of lithium in the States and the third largest on the planet.
As automakers like General Motors push forward with a goal of overtaking Tesla through their transition to EVs, battery materials will become increasingly scarce. It's not that the materials are limited, but the development of mines, along with the refining of materials is almost sure to limit the number of electric cars various manufacturers can produce, and also keep demand up and prices high.
GM has agreed to an equity investment of $650 million tied to a supply agreement with Lithium Americas. It marks the largest investment in history by an automaker specifically for battery raw materials and makes GM Lithium America's largest investor. Not only will the deal ensure that the US automaker has a working supply of lithium for its large portfolio of EVs, but also that those vehicles will likely be able to benefit from the full, revamped $7,500 US federal EV tax credit since the materials will be mined in the US.
Lithium Americas and GM will work together to develop the Thacker Pass mine to source lithium carbonate, which GM will use for its own Ultium battery cells. The lithium extracted from the finished site is expected to be enough for 1 million electric cars per year going forward. GM CEO Mary Barra announced:
“GM has secured all the battery material we need to build more than 1 million EVs annually in North America in 2025 and our future production will increasingly draw from domestic resources like the site in Nevada we’re developing with Lithium Americas."
Barra went on to explain that sourcing the battery materials from North American suppliers will help keep GM's supply chain more secure. In addition, it will help with costs, create local jobs, and comply with the US government's new EV tax credit rules related to battery materials sourcing.
GM has been announcing for years that it has a whole host of new EVs coming to market, and it still aims to top Tesla as the world's most successful EV maker by 2025. However, the company hasn't had much to show for its plans yet. It has been producing the Chevrolet Bolt EV for years, and recently added the Bolt EUV, which rides on the same platform. Other recent additions include the pricey GMC Hummer EV pickup truck and Cadillac Lyriq luxury electric crossover.
The automotive manufacturer is banking on being able to offer a number of affordable EVs in the future, including electric versions of the Equinox and Blazer. The goal is to be able to provide fully electric options for all types of vehicle buyers with varying needs and incomes.
Production isn't expected to begin at the Thacker Pass mine until H2 2026, at which time GM will be guaranteed exclusive access to all Phase 1 production. The automaker will also get the first offer to lock in Phase 2 production. Lithium Americas says the project will create 1,000 construction jobs and 500 positions related to operations.