Traverse City, Mich. — Electric vehicle battery maker LG Energy Solution is working to persuade some of its biggest suppliers to build facilities close to the two new U.S. plants the company plans to open by 2025.
Speaking during an industry panel discussion at the auto industry's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City Aug. 4, LG Energy Solution Michigan Inc. President Denise Gray said LG needs to be in a position where it can guarantee delivery of cells, batteries or complete packs to customers as the EV era ramps up.
Having suppliers of lithium and other material near the battery plants will help the company deliver cells, modules or complete packs on time, Gray told an audience at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars.
"As we talk about LG adding capacity in the United States, we are also talking about bringing our suppliers here as well," Gray said. "That discussion is going on. We are looking at locations that would add more technology parks. We are trying to pull more suppliers in with us on U.S. soil."
LG is building one new plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and another in Spring Hill, Tenn., to supply General Motors and in partnership with GM under the Ultium LLC joint venture.
"We are also working with companies outside the U.S. to ensure we can supply those raw materials and the processing so that in full confidence we can talk to our customers and say, 'Yes, we will be able to supply you with the battery cell, module or pack,'" she said.
"Lots of work in that area to be done," she acknowledged. "But we are encouraged with the support and pushing of the government to bring the supply chain."
Creating a reliable North American supply chain of batteries is just part of the task faced by the industry as it transitions from internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs.
EV components, such as electric motors, power electronics and software, as well as hydrogen fuel, are other areas where established suppliers and startups are working to secure supplies.
Harry Husted, BorgWarner's chief technology officer, said his company has been buying organizations with EV expertise since 2015, such as Remy and Delphi Technologies, so that it can ramp up production in line with demand, while at the same time it is continuing to produce components for traditional vehicles.
Husted said BorgWarner could see 45 percent of its revenue coming from sales of EV components by 2030.
Startup truckmaker Nikola also has new supply chain needs, said Mike Chaffins, Nikola's global head of supply chain.
Chaffins said the company is not only working on hydrogen-powered fuel cell and battery-electric semitrucks, but also developing a system that produces and delivers the gaseous hydrogen and electricity to fleet operators.
He said Nikola will offer mobile battery charging and hydrogen and then eventually establish a charging and hydrogen network at fixed locations.