GM, LG Chem talk about Valley

Battery-cell facility could be coming

LORDSTOWN — General Motors is in talks with a global energy company to locate a battery-cell production facility in the Mahoning Valley.

The partnership would be a joint venture between GM, which closed its assembly plant in Lordstown in March, and South Korea-based electric battery pack and cell maker LG Chem.

LG already has a plant in Holland, Mich., where it makes battery cells and packs for GM.

GM spokesman Jim Cain could not confirm the discussions between GM and LG Chem, but the automaker has said it is committed to future investment in Ohio, including a plans to bring battery-cell production in or near to Lordstown, where GM closed a plant earlier this year.

The facility would bring about 1,000 jobs to the area.

The proposal is not part of the contract GM and UAW negotiated earlier this year. Speculation at the time from source familiar with the situation was that negotiators shied away from including it to avoid setting a precedent for lesser-paying jobs, which are expected to be in the neighborhood of $17 per hour. The top wage earners at the assembly plant earned about $30 per hour.

The GM Lordstown facility produced its last Chevrolet Cruze on March 6. It was bought for a reported $20 million earlier this month by Lordstown Motors Corp., which plans on starting production of an all-electric battery powered commercial and passenger pickup truck in late 2020.

Meanwhile, GM announced this week it plans to build a $175 million facility in Brookville near Dayton through its DMAX joint venture to produce an diesel engine components for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickup trucks.

The 51,000-square-foot facility would expand the production of engine components for the company’s DMAX diesel engine manufacturing operation in Moraine.

DMAX is a joint venture with Isuzu Diesel Services of America, Inc. GM owns 60 percent.

The investment will create more than 100 new manufacturing jobs. Construction should be completed by the end of 2020.

“Strong demand for GM’s all-new family of Chevrolet and GMC heavy-and medium-duty pickups is driving us to find ways to build more Duramax diesel engines,” said Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of Global Manufacturing. “The Brookville investment will enable us to machine more engine blocks and heads and ultimately enable our DMAX engine plant in Moraine to build more 6.6-liter diesel engines for our Flint truck assembly plant.”

Heavy-duty trucks make up about 25 percent of full-size pickup sales in the U.S.