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Picture: REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI
Picture: REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI

Seoul — Stellantis and South Korea’s Samsung said on Wednesday they will build a second electric vehicle battery plant in Kokomo, Indiana, US, the hometown of United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain.

The union leader is fighting with the Detroit Three carmakers over union representation of new battery factories.

Stellantis and Samsung SDI (serial digital interface) said their second joint battery factory in Indiana is scheduled to open in 2027, and could employ 1,400 workers. The two companies would have a combined annual production capacity of 67 gigawatt hours at the Indiana production site, Samsung SDI said.

The first joint plant is set to start production in the first quarter of 2025.

The announcement comes as Stellantis, the parent of Detroit’s Chrysler, Jeep and RAM truck brands, is coping with losses from nearly four weeks of strikes by the United Auto Workers at a Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, and parts depots around the US.

Fain, who joined the UAW as a worker at one of Chrysler’s Kokomo power-train plants, is demanding that Stellantis, General Motors and Ford bring their joint venture EV battery factories under the union’s master agreements with the carmakers.

Stellantis and Ford have so far resisted, saying the battery ventures are separate entities that need lower labour costs.

GM last Friday agreed to bring its joint venture battery operations under its master contract, but the UAW and the automaker have not disclosed details of the agreement, including how much battery plant workers would be paid.

UAW-represented workers at GM’s joint venture battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in August won raises averaging 25% and now earn $20 an hour, still well below the $32 an hour top wage at GM assembly plants.

For Stellantis, a second US battery plant would help the company comply with US Inflation Reduction Act domestic content rules that govern federal EV subsidies.

Last month, Samsung SDI said it plans to invest 2.7-trillion won ($2.01bn) to build its second joint battery plant with Stellantis.

Stellantis, the brands of which include Peugeot, Jeep, RAM, Alfa Romeo, Citroën and Opel, has announced plans to reach 100% electric passenger car sales in Europe and 50% car and light truck electric mix in the US by 2030. To achieve that, it has said it wants to secure about 400 gigawatt hours of battery capacity. 

Reuters

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