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Stellantis picks Indiana for 2nd US EV battery plant

Stellantis announced Wednesday that it would build its second U.S.-based electric vehicle battery plant in Kokomo, Indiana, where the company is already building a similar battery plant.

Both facilities are being built as joint ventures with South Korea’s Samsung SDI.

A news release said the new StarPlus Energy plant would mean an additional investment of $3.2 billion and would create 1,400 jobs. It’s expected to begin production in 2027. The total investment for both plants would be more than $6.3 billion and would create 2,800 jobs, the release said, noting that the first plant is on track to open by the first quarter of 2025. The company said last year that the investment for the first plant would start at $2.5 billion and that could gradually increase up to $3.1 billion.

The company is also building a joint venture EV battery plant in Windsor, Ontario, in addition to plants in Europe.

The announcement comes as the automaker, which owns the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands, is involved in negotiations with the UAW over the fate of its idled Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois as the union’s strike against Stellantis, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. continues. Belvidere has been a major area of concern for the union since the company announced in December that it would idle the plant, which produced the Jeep Cherokee SUV.

It’s not clear that there’s any connection in the timing to the state of contract talks, although UAW Vice President Rich Boyer, who heads the union’s Stellantis department, has previously referenced proposals related to a battery plant and Belvidere among a number of options, including a big Mopar parts distribution center. The company said it had nothing further to add beyond what was contained in the news release, which did not reference the talks.

EV battery plants have been a significant focus for the union, which says it wants to ensure a “just transition” as the industry shifts toward more electric vehicles.

The UAW did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Mark Stewart, chief operating officer for Stellantis North America, touted the significance of Wednesday’s announcement.

“Our battery ecosystem is the foundation of our electrification strategy and our great partners Samsung SDI, the state of Indiana, and the city of Kokomo have created a compelling case for locating our sixth gigafactory in Kokomo,” Stewart said in the release, highlighting a slate of battery electric vehicles that the company plans to roll out in the coming years. “The BEVs coming to our North America brands play an important role in our drive to offer clean, safe and affordable mobility for all and achieve the bold goal of carbon net zero by 2038.”

Yoon-ho Choi, president and CEO of Samsung SDI, said that “through construction of the second battery plant of StarPlus Energy, Samsung SDI will be establishing its largest production base for electric vehicle batteries in North America.”

The significance of attracting EV battery plant locations has pitted state economic development officials in numerous states in a heated competition. It wasn’t immediately clear what incentives Indiana, or likely competitors Michigan and Illinois, would have offered for this project because those involved didn’t provide that information. In May 2022, after the initial Kokomo announcement, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares acknowledged the way the company was able to feed that rivalry.

“Did we create competition among different states? Yes, we did. It would have been unprofessional not to do so,” Tavares said at the time. Indiana had a “good proposal.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb highlighted how significant landing such a project is viewed.

“Today’s commitment from Stellantis and Samsung SDI will double the capital investment, the new jobs created, and the impact this joint venture will have on Kokomo and the state of Indiana for decades to come,” Holcomb said in the release.

 

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