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With so many automakers going full force into the future of alternative fuel vehicles, we’re going to see a lot more plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) hitting the streets over the next few years. Major auto groups like Stellantis, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and the Hyundai Motor Group (with Kia Corp) have all announced business strategies for the rest of the decade, such as Dare Forward 2030 by Stellantis. Along with this, many groups are opening new electric vehicle (EV) cell factories and manufacturing plants, such as LG Chem, a new EV battery plant for Stellantis, and other companies are popping up. Our Next Energy (ONE) is the latest group to join the venture, with plans to invest $1.6 billion into the transformation of a building into an EV battery cell plant in Van Buren Township, Michigan.
In Detroit, Michigan, this new battery cell plant will be responsible for producing lithium iron phosphate cells and battery packs, with production expected to start in 2024. Conversion of the building into the first battery cell plant of Detroit, Michigan is set to begin in January 2023. A multiyear lease was signed by the company, ONE, for the 659,589-square-foot building in Van Buren Township, and expects to start off with a strong annual capacity of 20 gigawatt hours. This would translate to 200,000 battery packs produced each year. These numbers are close to the expected annual production capacity for the new EV plant by Stellantis, with a total of 23 gigawatt-hours (gWh). With plans to expand that number to 33 GWh, we expect ONE to follow the same route and increase capacity over the years.
The new factory, ONE Circle, is the newest EV battery endeavor happening in North America to bring EV and BEV technology to the states and start production of such resources domestically. Whether it’s about onshore EV battery production or the economy, ONE had stated that this new factory will employ about 2,100 people. Canada, CEO Mujeeb Ijaz of ONE has discussed the choice for the Van Buren Township location due to its access to sources of iron and lithium in the U.S as well as the transportation for such materials.
"We think Michigan is well-positioned to be a hub for raw materials supply…Materials are fairly heavy in terms of transportation cost, so anything you can do to get on rail or water is a great way to think about driving costs down. I think the Great Lakes are going to play a part in that." - Ijaz told Automotive News
It is yet unclear if any of the aforementioned automakers have struck any deals with ONE and their battery pack production, but Ijaz has made it clear that the company will be focused on supplying passenger automakers with battery cells and moving onto commercial heavy trucks with battery packs. These new battery cells are expected to be able to deliver 350 miles of travel, and the key that could make this new battery cell a power player in the EV market place could be because it is derived from iron, an abundant, low-cost material that is also safer than some alternatives.
This wouldn’t be the first time an organization has tried to reinvent the EV battery cell. Mercedes-Benz entered into a contract with Sila to develop a new EV battery with a high-silicon anode material. There is much debate between automakers on the right EV battery pack to use in PHEVs and EVs, and automakers like Kia Corp are researching new EV batter technology announce something new every year. The demand for EV cells is only going to rise, and the growing number of gigifactories from automakers and others could be the new wave of development throughout the decade.
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