GM and Vacuumschmelze announce plans for new magnet factory

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General Motors and Vacuumschmelze (VAC) have revealed plans to support EV growth with a new plant in the US that will manufacture permanent magnets for the e-motors used in the Ultium platform. The facility, which will use locally sourced raw materials, is expected to start production in 2024.

“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,” said Shilpan Amin, GM vice president, global purchasing and supply chain. “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.”

A non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been agreed between the two companies, who expect to finalize definitive agreements in early 2022. This announcement is the latest step in GM’s plan to develop a North America-focused, vertical integration strategy for its proprietary Ultium battery platform. By value, the OEM expects that the majority of the Ultium platform will be sourced, processed or manufactured in North America by 2025.

“We are thrilled to join forces with GM on this journey into an increasingly electrified world, leveraging sustainable clean energy solutions,” noted Dr Erik Eschen, CEO of VAC. “VAC brings reliable scale and experience to GM’s supply chain. VAC’s deep magnetic materials knowledge and extensive e-mobility technology expertise, in partnership with GM, will enable a cleaner global future for our communities.”

Concurrently, GM has also agreed the formation of a strategic collaboration to develop a fully integrated U.S. supply chain for rare earth materials for magnet production. Under the long-term agreement, MP Materials will supply U.S.-sourced and manufactured rare earth materials, alloy and finished magnets for electric motors.

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,” emphasized MP Materials Chairman and CEO James Litinsky. “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.”

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Sam joined the UKi Media & Events automotive team in 2017. Having started out as assistant editor for a number of titles including Engine + Powertrain Technology International, Automotive Testing Technology International and Professional Motorsport World, he was appointed editor of E+PTI in 2020. Sam produces content for both the magazine and website.

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