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Slower Vehicle Putting Brakes on Construction of Proposed EV Plants

Dec. 21, 2023
On Dec. 20, Panasonic announced that it would not be building an EV battery plant in Oklahoma.

The Dec. 19 report that general contractor J.E. Dunn Construction and LG Chem, a global chemical company, broke ground on the $1.6-billion first phase of a new battery material manufacturing facility in Clarksville, TN, was the most positive news to hit the U.S. EV industry in some time, as demand for electric vehicles has slowed.
The reasons of the slowdown include concerns over high EV prices, the fragility of the public charging network, the lack of reasonably-priced entry-level EVs and the fact that many of the early adopters have already bought their vehicles.
Over the last few months, several key EV players have scaled back their expansion plans. On Dec. 20, Panasonic announced that it would not be building an EV battery plant in Oklahoma. A Wall Street Journal report said the company still plans to build out 200 gigawatt-hours of battery capacity in the United States by early 2031. Much of this capacity will be provided by a company plant now underway in DeSoto, KS. The report said this facility has battled higher construction costs.
General Motors and Ford have also scaled back their electric-vehicle investments, and in Ford’s case is beefing up its investment in its hybrid portfolio. In addition to an enhanced focus on hybrids, Ford plans to cut a shift at its Michigan plant making the electric Ford F150 Lightning because of soft demand for that truck, and GM said its assembly plant in  Lake Orion, MI, near Detroit would delay manufacturing of the electric version of the Chevrolet Silverado and DMC Sierra until 2025 because of disappointing customer demand for other EVs.
When new EV facilities do break ground, they provide huge opportunities for the electrical construction industry and local economy. The LG Chem  battery components plant in Clarksville, TN, will create more than 800 jobs when all phases are complete.  When all phases complete, the EV material facility will create more than 800 jobs in the Clarksville market.  
A press release announcing the groundbreaking said the new 420-acre facility will be the largest cathode-specific plant in the United States. Cathode, a compound comprised of nickel, cobalt, manganese and aluminum (NCMA), is integral to the production of electric batteries, heavily determining battery capacity and stability, according to the release. By 2028, the facility is projected to produce 60,000 tons of cathode annually, which can power an estimated 600,000 high-performance electric vehicles.
Additionally, the new plant will be designed with sustainability in mind and be powered solely by renewable energy sources, solar and wind.