Electric vehicles currently only represent about 6 percent of new vehicle sales in the U.S., but a huge industrial shift toward battery projects suggests that the figure could skyrocket in the coming years. Tesla’s market dominance has other automakers making major investments into automotive batteries, and it’s hard to keep track of the new EV battery projects set to begin in the next few years.
Above: A Tesla Model 3 and other electric cars recharge at a charging station (Image: Kindel Media / Pexels).
New research from the think tank Atlas Public Policy shows over $128 billion in announced U.S. investments in EVs, battery plants and battery recycling projects in recent years, as detailed in a report from NPR. In 2022 alone, the data shows over $73 billion in planned projects, representing three times as much funding as in 2021.
Several automakers are debuting EV-related projects in the U.S., including legacy names like Ford, General Motors and German powerhouse Volkswagen, to name a few. These projects will require tons of EV batteries in the next few years, also representing a huge market that automakers and suppliers alike are keen to jump on.
Tesla currently has U.S. Gigafactories in Fremont, California, Sparks, Nevada and Austin, Texas, and the company may be set to announce a new North American plant soon. The EV automaker also has a photovoltaic cell factory in Buffalo, New York, and it has battery supply deals with a number of manufacturers, most notably including Panasonic.
Currently, some 90 percent of EV battery production is based in China, and U.S. auto leaders have been airing warnings about this issue for the past couple of years. In an interview last year, former Volkswagen of America President Scott Keogh emphasized some other benefits of moving production to the U.S.
"It helps us with logistics cost, it helps us with material costs," Keogh said last January in the interview with NPR. "It'll be a dramatic, dramatic, dramatic help having the supply chain localized, having the car here and, frankly, just having enough production slots."
All within the last year, the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant added an $800 million electric assembly line, and the factory is getting its batteries from a new SKI plant in Georgia with a price tag of $2.6 billion, according to NPR.
Atlas analyst Tom Taylor says new battery plant projects are set to create over 150,000 direct jobs, though the plants will take time to get up and running.
"We've seen announcements ... all over the country, and not just announcements, but really big announcements. In some states [these are] some of the largest, if not the largest, economic development projects in the state's history," Taylor said.
"It's a reasonable assumption that that number is going to keep going up."