Stellantis to put second EV battery plant in town where EVs threaten current jobs

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New York
CNN
 — 

Stellantis and Samsung plan to build a second EV battery plant in Kokomo, Indiana, a town where many current Stellantis workers see such plants as a threat to their current jobs.

EV battery plants are a critical part of the plans of traditional automakers to transition from gasoline-powered cars to electric vehicles in coming decades. But they could be a threat to existing jobs building engines and transmissions, which are not needed in an EV. Stellantis has four plants in Kokomo alone building engines and transmissions, employing more than 5,000 hourly workers between them.

Stellantis, which builds cars under the Jeep, Ram, Dodge and Chrysler brands, along with unionized rivals General Motors and Ford, are now in the fourth week of a strike by the United Auto Workers union, and the future of jobs building EVs are a central issue in the strike.

While the four Kokomo plants are not on strike, the union is on strike at Stellantis’ assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio, as well as at 20 parts and distribution centers spread across 14 states.

All the automakers are in the process of building EV battery plants, and all of them are using joint ventures with battery manufacturers such as Samsung to build and run the plants. They have all insisted that will make the employees of the plants employees of the joint ventures, not the automakers themselves. And the pay at US EV battery plants that have opened so far is a fraction of what UAW members get when working for the automakers.

UAW President Shawn Fain announced Friday that GM had agreed to a key union demand that employees at its EV battery plants will be part of the company’s national master labor agreement with the UAW. GM has not confirmed that agreement, and details of how much those workers would be paid and if they’ll be considered GM employees or covered in the agreement as employees of separate companies is not yet known.

But Fain hailed that agreement as a major win for the union and said it would now press Ford and Stellantis to agree to similar terms if they want to end the strike.

Samsung and Stellantis announced plans for its latest battery plant in the wake of that announcement.

The two companies announced Wednesday that they are investing more than $3.2 billion to build the new plant, which will open in early 2027 and have an annual capacity of 34 gigawatt hours. Its opening will bring about 1,400 new jobs to Kokomo, located an hour north of Indianapolis.

StarPlus Energy, the joint venture formed by Samsung and Stellantis, previously chose Kokomo for its first gigafactory that’s currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2025.

In total, the two factories will produce 67 gigawatt hours annually. “Indiana’s economy is on a roll,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in a press release, adding that the second plant means the companies are doubling their capital investment and the amount of new jobs being created.

The factories will help Stellantis meet its goal for battery electric passenger cars to make up 100% of its sales in Europe, and 50% of its sales in the US, by 2030. Stellantis announced in 2021 an “aggressive” investment of $35 billion for electric vehicle production and needs 400 gigawatt hours annually to meet its 2030 goal.

Stellantis was created in 2021 through the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group, maker of Peugeot, Citroën, Opel and Vauxhall cars in Europe. Shares rose nearly 2% in premarket trading.

Sumber: www.cnn.com

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