The first steel goes up during construction July 29, 2020 at the all-new Ultium Cells LLC battery cell manufacturing facility in Lordstown, Ohio.

The construction of the new battery plant near Lordstown, Ohio is one of the main pillars of General Motors’ electric vehicle strategy took another step forward with the first pieces of steel being raised.

GM chairman Mary Barra said steel construction at the all-new Ultium Cells LLC battery cell manufacturing facility in Lordstown got underway this week. Ultium Cells LLC is a potentially $2.3 billion joint venture between GM and LG Chem that will mass-produce Ultium battery cells for electric vehicles and create more than 1,100 new jobs in Northeast Ohio, she said.

Barra also noted in a call with analysts that the Lordstown plant will be one of two battery cell plants in the U.S., she said. The other plant is Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada. Barra also said she is confident the cost of the cells will drop to $100 or less once production is up and running, making electric powertrains more competitive with internal combustion engines.

(Could General Motors change its name? Barra doesn’t say no.)

The new Ultium plant will produce cells for the new GMC Hummer EV and likely the Cadillac Lyriq.

“We are excited about the progress that our team has made, and we look forward to the finished product – a nearly 3 million-square-foot plant,” said Ken Morris, vice president of Autonomous and Electric Vehicle Programs, in a statement.

“Our joint venture with LG Chem will allow us to produce advanced battery cells in Lordstown, with the goal of reducing battery costs to accelerate EV adoption and ultimately benefit customers.”

Despite the pandemic, product development work on GM’s future EV and AV portfolios continues to progress at a rapid pace. On Thursday, Aug. 6, the Cadillac Lyriq show car will debut virtually, introducing the next chapter for the luxury brand.

(GM, LG Chem investing “upt to $2.3 billion” in new battery joint venture.)

Production timing remains on track for the Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV, both of which will be powered by the Ultium battery system.

The plant is part of a $2.3 billion joint venture between GM and LG Chem.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the company’s operations around the world, it has not delayed General Motors plans to introduce as many as 20 electric vehicles by 2023, according to a new “sustainability report” released earlier this month.

“Despite significant macro challenges, all of GM’s Ultium-powered EVs remain on track for production, including Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV truck and Cruise Origin,” GM noted in the report, which details the company’s efforts to improve its response to challenges such as climate change, pollution, waste of natural resources and the need for greater diversity in its ranks.

(GM suffers big drop in second-quarter sales.)

During a conference call with reporters Dane Parker, GM’s chief sustainability officer, added the development of GM’s new fleet of EV’s has not been delayed by the lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many engineers to work from home.

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