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2022 was a record year for EV battery plants in the US: NPR

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The all-electric muscle car Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept is shown in its world reveal during Dodge Speed ​​Week at the M1 Concourse on August 17 in Michigan. As the popularity of electric vehicles explodes, battery production in the United States is growing rapidly.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images


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Bill Pugliano/Getty Images


The all-electric muscle car Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept is shown in its world reveal during Dodge Speed ​​Week at the M1 Concourse on August 17 in Michigan. As the popularity of electric vehicles explodes, battery production in the United States is growing rapidly.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Today, billion-dollar factories make the huge batteries that power electric vehicles. are announced so often that – even if you follow the auto industry – it’s hard to keep up with them all.

Have you heard about the one from KORE Power in Arizona? Samsung and Stellantis in Indiana? The Chinese project in Michigan, the Norwegian project in Georgia, the Japanese project in South Carolina?

Or, if you’re not impressed with a billion dollars anymore, how about the $5 billion electric vehicle and battery project in Georgia? No, not the one – the other 1.

All of these factories – plus the even larger ones at Ford and General Motors – are part of a remarkable industrial shift.

Automakers are poised for electric vehicles, currently around 6% of new vehicle sales in the United States, to capture a huge market share within a few years. This means that companies will need a large number of batteries.

Think tank Atlas Public Policy recently tallied all announced projects located in the United States, as part of a survey supported by a trade alliance of automakers, and provided updated numbers to NPR in December. In all, the group has accounted for more than $128 billion in announced investments in electric vehicle plants, battery plants and battery recycling.

In 2022 alone, companies announced more than $73 billion in planned projects – more than three times the previous record, set in 2021.

Beyond the battery belt, production is spreading to many parts of the US.

Political pressure is mounting on companies involved in battery production to reduce dependence on China and create jobs in the United States. Currently, China is home to up to 90% of global production of some key battery components.

But there are also business reasons to move to the US as companies look to rapidly expand production and avoid supply chain disruptions.

“It helps us with logistics costs, it helps us with material costs,” Then-VW of America president Scott Keogh told NPR last January about moving production to the United States. “It’s going to be a dramatic, dramatic, dramatic help to have the supply chain located, to have the car here and, frankly, to have enough production slots.”

Last year, the company opened a new electrical assembly line at its Chattanooga plant (conversion cost: $800 million), with batteries sourced from a new SKI plant located hours away in Georgia (price: $2. 6 billion).


Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, and Scotty Reiss, Founder and CEO of Girl’s Guide to Cars, attend SXSW at the ID. Buzz Stop on March 12th in Austin, Texas. The car is another entry in the growing EV field.

Roger Kisby/Getty Images for Volkswagen of America


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Roger Kisby/Getty Images for Volkswagen of America


Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, and Scotty Reiss, Founder and CEO of Girl’s Guide to Cars, attend SXSW at the ID. Buzz Stop on March 12th in Austin, Texas. The car is another entry in the growing EV field.

Roger Kisby/Getty Images for Volkswagen of America

Many of the US’s new projects are being built in the Southeast, which has earned the region the nickname “the battery belt.” But Tom Taylor, an analyst at Atlas, says the trend is geographically broader than that.

“We’ve seen ads… across the country, and not just ads, but really big ads,” he says. “In some states [these are] some of the biggest, if not the biggest, economic development projects in the history of the state.”

In all, the companies say these factories will create more than 150,000 direct jobs, according to Taylor.

Now comes the hard part… opening the blueprints

It is much easier to advertise a new battery factory than to actually open one. Tesla, which pioneered this type of factory, is currently facing headwinds at its new Gigafactory in Berlin.

And while GM successfully opened a new battery plant in Ohio, CEO Mary Barra had to defend the slow pace of production there in a recent call with investors.

“Let’s step back and recognize that the Ohio plant is the size of 30 football fields and will employ over 1,000 people,” she said. “Making sure we had all our people there and trained took a little longer than expected.”

Given the challenges of executing projects of this size, it’s fair to view all announced numbers with a pinch of skepticism.

And that’s particularly worrisome to some critics, because not all of those billions of dollars come from corporations—a large chunk is paid for by taxpayers.

Nearly $14 billion in state and local subsidies went to electric vehicle plants and battery plants this year, according to subsidy watchdog group Good Jobs First, which has criticized both the size of the subsidies and the lack of transparency surrounding their.

But supporters and critics alike agree on one thing: Huge amounts of money will likely be poured into new battery plants across the United States for a while.

Most of the announcements tallied by Atlas predate a national climate law passed this summer that included big incentives for manufacturing electric vehicles in the United States.

Given that, “it’s a reasonable assumption that this number will continue to rise,” says Taylor.

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