GM Signs Two Deals to Advance EV Magnet Production in U.S.

General Motors Co. in Detroit and VAC of Germany today announced plans for VAC to build a plant in the United States that will manufacture permanent magnets for the electric motors used in the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and more than a dozen other models using GM’s Ultium Platform.
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General Motors and VAC announced plans to build a U.S. plant to develop
General Motors and VAC announced plans to build a U.S. plant to develop permanent magnets for the electric motors used in the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and more than a dozen other models using GM’s Ultium Platform. // Courtesy of GM

General Motors Co. in Detroit and VAC of Germany today announced plans for VAC to build a plant in the United States that will manufacture permanent magnets for the electric motors used in the GMC Hummer EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and more than a dozen other models using GM’s Ultium Platform.

The new plant would plan to use locally sourced raw materials. VAC is a leading global producer of advanced magnetic materials as well as rare earth permanent magnets and inductive components.

In addition, GM and MP Materials today announced the formation of a strategic collaboration to develop a fully integrated U.S. supply chain for rare earth magnets. Under the long-term agreement, MP Materials will supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloy and finished magnets for the electric motors used in the GMC HUMMER EV, Cadillac LYRIQ, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and more than a dozen models using GM’s Ultium Platform, with a gradual production ramp that begins in 2023.

VAC is a leading global producer of advanced magnetic materials and the largest producer of permanent magnets in the Western Hemisphere with nearly 100 years of experience.

“We are building a resilient and sustainable EV manufacturing value chain in North America from raw materials to components to drive GM’s growth and support a mass market for EVs,” says Shilpan Amin, vice president of global purchasing and supply chain at GM.  “Our work with VAC is another bold step forward that will help ensure that we meet our goal to lead the EV industry in North America in more than just sales.”

The VAC plant is expected to start production in 2024 and create hundreds of new jobs. The location of the facility will be announced at a later date. The finished magnets will be delivered to facilities building EV motors for GM’s Ultium-powered EVs.

Magnets are at the heart of an EV motor. Within the motors, an electric coil generates a magnetic field to push against strong magnets, creating the torque that propels a vehicle’s wheels.

A GMC Hummer EV powered by GM’s Ultium Platform may have as many as three motors with up to 11,500 lb-ft of torque (15,590 Nm) — all of which is available to the driver on demand. This allows the GMC Hummer EV to accelerate from 0-60 mph in three seconds.

A non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been completed. GM and VAC expect to finalize definitive agreements in early 2022.

GM has made a number of recent announcements around pursuing a North America-focused, vertical integration strategy for its proprietary Ultium battery platform. By value, GM expects the majority of the Ultium Platform will be sourced, processed or manufactured in North America by 2025.

Previously announced supply chain collaborations include those with:

“All of these agreements reflect GM’s commitment to sourcing low-carbon footprint, ESG-friendly, secure and cost-competitive materials,” said Amin.

GM EV Milestones

  • Invest $35 billion in EV and AV product development by 2025.
  • Launch more than 30 EVs globally through 2025.
  • Sell more than 1 million EVs globally by 2025, earning EV market leadership in North America.
  • Drive first-generation Ultium cell costs 40 percent lower than those used in the Chevrolet Bolt EV; achieve twice the energy density at 60 percent lower cost in the second generation.
  • Rapidly scale EV manufacturing, with more than 50 percent of North America and China plants capable of EV production by 2030.
  • Double annual revenues from a five-year average of about $140 billion by the end of the decade, expand margins, and grow EV revenue from about $10 billion in 2023 to approximately $90 billion annually by 2030.

For MP Materials, Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets are critical inputs that enable electric motors to transform electricity into motion. Although development of permanent magnets began in the U.S., there is virtually no domestic capacity to produce sintered NdFeB magnets today.

The strategic collaboration seeks to accelerate the restoration of the U.S. rare earth supply chain at commercial scale with high resiliency and environmental sustainability.

MP Materials owns and operates the Mountain Pass rare earth mine and processing facility in California, the only active and scaled rare earth production site in America. Rare earth materials sourced from Mountain Pass will be transformed into metal, NdFeB alloy and magnets at a new production facility MP Materials today announced it will build in Fort Worth, Texas, delivering an end-to-end, U.S. supply chain.

“Restoring the full rare earth supply chain to the United States at scale would not be possible without U.S. manufacturers like GM recognizing the strategic consequence and acting with conviction,” says James Litinsky, chairman and CEO of MP Materials. “We are proud to welcome GM as the foundational automotive customer for our new magnetics facility and join forces with a company fully aligned with our vision to reinvigorate the American manufacturing spirit.”

GM and MP Materials have signed a binding agreement on terms and expect to enter into a definitive supply agreement shortly. In addition, the two companies will look to collaboratively engage from a public policy perspective to seek policies that are supportive of the establishment of a secure, U.S. rare earth supply chain.

MP’s domestic supply chain spanning California and Texas will provide certainty of provenance, supply and sustainability. Mountain Pass is a closed-loop, zero-discharge rare earth production facility with a dry tailings process that recycles more than 1 billion liters of water per year.

To optimize for efficiency and sustainability, waste generated during MP’s rare earth alloy and magnet manufacturing will be recycled back into the process. GM and MP Materials will also explore the potential to further optimize production efficiency and conserve natural resources through novel recycling approaches based on end-of-life, closed-loop principles.

MP Materials is the largest producer of rare earth materials in the Western Hemisphere, and supplies approximately 15 percent of the rare earth content consumed in the global market in 2020. Separated rare earth elements are critical inputs for the magnets that enable the mobility of electric vehicles, drones, defense systems, wind turbines, robotics, and many other high-growth, advanced technologies.

More information is available at https://mpmaterials.com/.

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