By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will visit a General Motors LG Energy Solution joint venture battery cell manufacturing plant in Tennessee on Wednesday to tout rising U.S. electric vehicle and battery production, the department said Monday.
The 2.8-million-square-foot, $2.6 billion Ultium Cells plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, is set to begin production later this year and is the second of three planned JV plants. The plant is expected to eventually employ 1,700 people and will produce cells for the Cadillac Lyriq, which is produced at the adjacent GM assembly plant.
On Friday, the Treasury reversed course and said it would make more EVs eligible for up to $7,500 tax credits — including the Lyriq — by revising how they are classified.
Under the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) approved in August, SUVs can be priced at up to $80,000 to qualify for EV tax credits, while cars, sedans and wagons can be priced at up to $55,000.
The Treasury announcement allowed vehicles that automakers consider crossover SUVs to qualify for credits. The decision raises the retail price cap to $80,000 from $55,000 for GM’s Cadillac Lyriq, Tesla’s five-seat Model Y, Volkswagen’s ID.4, and Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and Escape Plug-in Hybrid.
Yellen and other Cabinet officials are traveling this week to tout the IRA‘s boosting of green energy manufacturing and battery production. Treasury said Monday that since August, “dozens of companies across the clean energy spectrum have announced tens of billions of dollars in investments in the United States.”
Treasury drew the ire of Senate Energy Committee chair Joe Manchin after the department said it would not issue proposed guidance on battery sourcing rules until March, effectively giving some EVs not meeting new requirements a few months of eligibility in 2023 before the battery rules take effect.
The rules are designed to shift the U.S. battery supply chain away from China. China currently produces 70% of batteries for electric vehicles, Treasury said.