General Motors and GE Renewable Energy will work together to evaluate ways to improve supply chains used for finding rare earth materials for manufacturing electric vehicles and renewable energy equipment.
The companies will look at heavy and light rare earth materials and magnets, copper and electrical steel. They will initially focus on creating a North America- and Europe-based supply chain of magnet manufacturing that they will both use in the future before looking to establish new supply chains for materials like copper and eSteel.
Metal alloys and finished magnets produced from rare earth materials are important components used in making electric motors of automotive and renewable power generation, the companies say.
The attempt to establish a magnet supply chain in the US and Europe is significant because much of the world’s rare-earth magnet supply comes from other areas, such as China, India, Japan and Brazil. According to US magnet supplier Alliance, rare earth magnets account for 90,000 tons of global use with a market of $1.7 billion. Most of the US production goes toward automobile production, Alliance says, but domestic magnet manufacturing has been declining and moving to China.
Earlier in 2021 GM boosted investments in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion through 2025. Much of that financial commitment was to ramp up US production of batteries.
GM Vice President for Global Purchasing and Supply Chain Shilpan Amin says establishing a sustainable local supply chain for materials is important as the company works toward manufacturing all electric vehicles. He says the agreement between the companies will help them find cost-competitive resources that help with achieving a low-carbon footprint.
GE was one of the top two wind energy producers in 2020, as growth in the renewable energy sector surges. GE Renewable Energy Chief Technology Officer Danielle Merfeld says the agreement with GM will improve the sourcing of key materials for renewable energy, thus lowering cost.
GM and GE Renewable Energy will also evaluate the possibility of creating new technologies for producing both automotive and renewable power products. They also say they will work together to in regard to public policies that will support the establishment of these new supply chains.