General Motors has tentatively agreed to invest $650 million into mining company Lithium Americas Corp. as the Detroit automaker seeks to boost electric battery production with exclusive access to the biggest known U.S. source of a key battery element.
GM, which now refers to itself as “focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all,” plans to make an equity investment that’s contingent on legal and environmental approvals of the Thacker Pass project, which faces lawsuits by tribes and conservationists.
In a letter to shareholders on GM’s fourth-quarter earnings, Chair and CEO Mary Barra noted that the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV had record sales, “which demonstrates the importance of affordable EVs in our portfolio. They were the best-selling mainstream EVs in the second half of 2022, and we plan to increase production to more than 70,000 this year for global markets.”
The Biden administration has prioritized increased North American sourcing and production of electric-vehicle batteries in order for the U.S. to be less reliant on sources in Asia, particularly China. The Nevada lithium source is the world’s third-largest, according to Lithium Americas, which says it could support production of as many as a million EVs annually.
The U.S. and Mexico plan to work to integrate their supply chains and expand electric vehicle production via Mexico’s nationalized lithium industry. Mexico President Andrés López Obrador said last fall that his plan is for the northern border state of Sonora to be a leader in lithium, electric vehicle and solar energy production.
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