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Honda, LG set to build $4.4 billion EV battery plant in U.S.

Honda Motor Co. and South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd. will spend $4.4 billion to build a new battery plant in the U.S. as the Japanese carmaker seeks to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles completely by 2040.

The facility will have an annual capacity of about 40 gigawatt-hours with mass production slated to start at the end of 2025, Honda officials said in a company filing. The duo will set up a joint venture this year in which Honda will hold a 49% stake by investing $1.7 billion. Construction is expected to start by early 2023.

The location of the U.S. plant has not been determined. Bloomberg reported in June that Ohio is a front-runner, and the Japanese firm already has car plants there. It also has auto plants in Alabama and Indiana.

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, the company’s largest light truck plant in the world, produces the Passport and Pilot SUVs, the Odyssey minivan and the Ridgeline pickup truck. The plant in Lincoln, in Talladega County, also produces the traditional V-6 gas engines that power Honda cars.

Carmakers around the world are scrambling to build electric vehicles (EVs) or EV battery plants in North America by partnering with Asian battery-makers. Panasonic Holdings Corp., which supplies electric car batteries to Tesla Inc., is in talks to invest $4 billion in a battery plant in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported in August. Korean battery-makers have a slew of plans for battery plants in the U.S., constructing four for General Motors Co., two for Stellantis NV and three for Ford Motor Co.

A production associate adjusts his hat while working at the Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. Marysville Auto Plant in Marysville, Ohio. (Ty Wright / Bloomberg)

Honda, meanwhile, plans to spend $36 billion over the next decade on its push into EVs by launching some 30 new models, which is one of the most aggressive expansions of electrification in Japan. The new plant will produce pouch-type cells for Honda and Acura EVs.

“Honda is working toward our target to realize carbon neutrality for all products and corporate activities the company is involved in by 2050,” said Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe. “Aligned with our longstanding commitment to build products close to the customer, Honda is committed to the local procurement of EV batteries, which is a critical component of EVs. This initiative in the U.S. with LG Energy, the leading global battery manufacturer, will be part of such a Honda approach.”

Automakers outside the U.S. are facing new energy and tax policies under the Inflation Reduction Act. It requires them to assemble EVs in the U.S. and reduce dependence on China for minerals used in batteries in order to secure a maximum $7,500-a-car federal subsidy. With the exception of Nissan’s Leaf, no other Japanese EV model would qualify for subsidies under the new rules.

South Korea’s trade minister Lee Chang-yang said Aug. 29 he will seek cooperation with Japan and European nations to ease requirements on EV and battery makers.