This year's contract negotiations between General Motors and the UAW contained a little-discussed bargaining chip from the automaker — the possibility that GM would build a new lithium ion battery factory near its idled Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant to fuel its planned new generation of electric vehicles.
At a time when the auto industry is undergoing strategic turmoil and technological disruption, battery manufacturing plants have become a bright new promise.
The reason is simple: The entire global industry is hatching plans to introduce battery-powered cars and trucks, and at the moment, there is not enough battery production capacity to support them
That has automakers and suppliers planning factory investments — which in turn has states and cities scrambling to offer up plant sites.
Battery plants are not cheap.
A battery module is essentially just another auto part, like a seat or a transmission or a windshield. But the components are large, heavy, delicate, highly engineered and require a large work force, a big plant footprint and a considerable investment.