Stellantis secures lithium supply for new Kokomo battery plant

·3 min read

Jun. 7—Stellantis has signed a 10-year agreement with a California company to provide lithium that will be used to produce batteries at the new Kokomo battery plant.

Controlled Thermal Resources Ltd. (CTR) will supply battery-grade lithium hydroxide for use in Stellantis' North American electrified vehicle production.

CTR will supply Stellantis with up to 25,000 metric tons per year of lithium hydroxide over the 10-year term of the agreement. Stellantis announced in late 2021 a similar supply deal to support its European vehicle production.

CTR's Hell's Kitchen Project in Imperial County, California, will recover lithium from geothermal brines using renewable energy and steam. The integrated, closed-loop process will eliminate the need for evaporation brine ponds, open pit mines and fossil-fueled processing, Stellantis officials stated in a release.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said the agreement will ensure the company has a robust, competitive and low-carbon lithium supply from various partners around the world to meet its electric vehicle production plans in a "responsible manner."

"In the fight against global warming, bolstering our battery electric vehicle supply chain to support our bold electrification ambitions is absolutely critical," he said.

A good portion of that lithium will eventually end up in Kokomo when the new $2.5-billion facility opens in 2025. The plant is being built through a joint partnership between Stellantis and Samsung SDI to produce batteries for a range of electric vehicles produced at Stellantis' North American assembly plants.

Company officials last month announced the 3.3-million-square-foot factory will be built at the site of the city's new industrial park, located at 2644 N. 50 East, just southeast of the Kokomo Engine Plant.

The facility is Stellantis' first battery plant in the U.S., and the fifth battery plant the company has constructed worldwide. The project also marks Samsung SDI's first manufacturing presence in the country.

The new Kokomo facility aims to have an initial annual battery energy production capacity of 23 gigawatt hours (GWh), with the goal to increase to 33 GWh in the next few years. That's enough battery power for roughly 1.1 million vehicles to drive 100 miles before needing recharged.

CTR CEO Rod Colwell said the company's process for securing clean lithium produced with energy from a renewable resource will help to further decarbonize the battery supply chain. That, in turn, delivers cleaner cars with less environmental impact, he said.

That's especially true with lithium hydroxide, which decomposes at a lower temperature, allowing batteries to be more sustainable and last longer than batteries produced with lithium carbonate.

"This definitive offtake agreement with Stellantis sets a new benchmark for the automotive industry in the United States," Colwell said in a release. "We look forward to a strong and successful relationship with Stellantis."

The agreement is another step in Stellantis meeting its long-term aim to have global annual battery electric vehicles sales of 5 million by 2030. In the U.S., the plan calls for 50% of sales to be made up of battery electric passenger cars and light-duty trucks by 2030.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.