The battery of the future? GM developing lithium hydroxide cell technology for higher performance and longer range EVs

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The advancement of electric vehicle battery chemistries is not only a quest for improved performance but also a big step towards more sustainable and ethically sound material sourcing.

As part of this, General Motors has been developing lithium hydroxide-based cathodes for its Ultium batteries. It announced that it will enter a multi-year sourcing agreement in which Livent will supply GM with battery-grade lithium hydroxide made primarily from lithium extracted at Livent’s brine-based operations in South America.

Lithium hydroxide is crucial to GM’s plans to make higher performance, higher mileage EVs. The lithium hydroxide from Livent will be used in GM’s Ultium battery cathodes, which will power electric vehicles such as the recently revealed Chevrolet Blazer EV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC HUMMER EV and Cadillac LYRIQ.

Livent will provide battery-grade lithium hydroxide to GM over a six-year period beginning in 2025. Over the course of the agreement, Livent will increasingly supply battery-grade lithium hydroxide to GM from its manufacturing facilities in the U.S., with the goal of transitioning 100% of Livent’s downstream lithium hydroxide processing for GM to North America.  The agreement is expected to help secure supply for GM while assisting Livent in expanding its North American capabilities.

Both GM and Livent share a commitment to responsible operations and sustainable supply chains through industry and multi-stakeholder platforms. General Motors is a member of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), joined the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) in 2021 and plans to become carbon neutral in global products and operations by 2040. Livent is actively engaged in an IRMA third-party assessment, has a gold rating from EcoVadis for sustainability and has announced a goal of overall carbon neutrality by 2040.

“We are building a strong, sustainable, scalable and secure supply chain to help meet our fast-growing EV production needs,” said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “We will further localize the lithium supply chain in North America over the course of the agreement. In addition, it is aligned with our approach to responsible sourcing and supply chain management and demonstrates our commitment to strong supplier relationships.”

“Importantly, GM now has contractual commitments secured with strategic partners for all battery raw material to support our goal of 1 million units of EV capacity by the end of 2025,” added Morrison.

Paul Graves, president and chief executive officer of Livent commented, “We are excited to begin this long-term relationship with GM, one of the most iconic brands in the automotive industry and a leading force in the transition to electrification. With a shared commitment to sustainability and responsible operations, we look forward to building a broad partnership that will support GM’s electric vehicle strategy, its supply chain goals and the future requirements of its growing EV fleet for reliable, high-performance lithium products.”

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