G.M. Venture to Create Ohio Battery Plant and 1,100 Jobs


A deal with LG Chem of South Korea will further the automaker’s plans for electric vehicles and fulfill a pledge made after its Lordstown plant was idled.

A Chevrolet Bolt, an electric car made by G.M., at a charging station in Fontana, Calif.
A Chevrolet Bolt, an electric car made by G.M., at a charging station in Fontana, Calif.Credit...Philip Cheung for The New York Times

After idling its car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, this year, General Motors promised that it would bring jobs back to the once-mighty manufacturing region.

On Thursday, its plans began to take a shape: It will build a factory to make electric-vehicle batteries along with a South Korean partner, LG Chem.

In a joint announcement, the companies said they planned to invest a total of $2.3 billion in producing battery cells. They said the deal provided for a joint venture in which they would have equal stakes.

They said the venture would set up a plant in the Lordstown area that would create more than 1,100 jobs. Groundbreaking is expected in the middle of next year.

LG Chem is a major supplier of lithium-ion batteries in the auto industry and other sectors, with clients including Volvo. A financial filing in South Korea indicated that its investment in the joint venture would occur over four years.

G.M. is making a major push into electric vehicles, including 20 battery-powered models by 2023. It aims sell one million such vehicles globally by 2026.

The automaker has repeatedly announced its intent to set up a battery-making plant with a partner that would bring back jobs to the Lordstown area, where it abandoned production in March.

The shutdown of G.M.’s Lordstown plant, which most recently made the Chevrolet Cruze, was traumatic to Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

While many Lordstown workers accepted jobs at other G.M. plants, the factory’s fate hovered over rancorous contract talks with the United Automobile Workers union. The contract impasse resulted in a 40-day nationwide walkout in the fall, the longest against G.M. in almost half a century.

The settlement allowed the company to close the plant permanently, but G.M. made commitments to investments in other factories. The jobs foreseen at the battery plant are far fewer than the 3,000 that the G.M. assembly plant once employed.

Earlier accounts said the pay at the battery plant was likely to be about $17 an hour, well below the $31 that many assembly workers made in Lordstown.

After the Lordstown plant was idled, G.M. reached an agreement to sell it to a start-up, Workhorse Group, which plans to produce electric pickup trucks. Workhorse says it expects to hire about 400 workers next year at wages comparable to what U.A.W. members make at major auto companies.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Su-Hyun Lee contributed reporting.