The Real Brake on America’s Electric-Vehicle Revolution – by Stephen Wilmot (Wall Street Journal – January 28, 2022)

Capital is pouring into U.S. EV and battery plants, but not into the foundations of a domestic battery industry, leaving the supply chain uncomfortably dependent on China

Electric vehicles won’t get a “100% Made in U.S.A.” stamp for a good while yet.

U.S. auto makers are pouring billions of dollars into domestic EV factories and lithium-ion battery plants to supply them. General Motors this week announced $6.6 billion of EV investments into two Michigan plants, including $1.3 billion from its South Korean battery partner, LG Energy Solution.

Ford announced similar projects in Tennessee and Kentucky last September alongside LG’s archrival, SK Innovation.

Move further upstream in the U.S. EV supply chain, though, and the torrent of capital turns into a trickle. Unless that changes, the headlong pursuit of EVs in Detroit and California alike risks replacing the American driver’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil with an equally problematic reliance on Chinese battery materials.

Some projects are under way, often led by partnerships or supply deals with car makers. Relative to the scale of investment downstream, though, they seem small. GM last month announced a joint venture with Posco Chemical, another South Korean company, to open a cathode materials plant in the U.S. in 2024.

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