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GM plans to get rare earth metals from within the United States for its electric cars

General Motors is speeding up its transition away from China as well as other foreign suppliers of crucial raw materials as well as components for millions of the battery-electric vehicles it wants to launch over the next decade. GM revealed the newest of over a dozen agreements, saying it will buy rare earth metals from United States’ only commercial mine, and two new plants will supply the high-power magnets required for its electric car motors. Raw materials and finished magnets such as neodymium are currently primarily obtained from China.

Shilpan Amin, GM’s vice president in charge of the global product development, purchasing, as well as supply chain, said, “Our intent is to have a fully robust, sustainable, scalable, and cost-competitive distribution network for the whole value chain via a North American-focused distribution chain to support all of the EV production.” The first “strategic collaboration” was revealed, and it involves GM and MP Materials, a California-based firm that owns and runs the sole commercial rare earth mine in the United States, in Mountain Pass. MP will establish a factory situated in Fort Worth, Texas. This is to create sufficient magnets for close to 500,000 electric motors each year.

Separately, GM announced that it is finalizing the specifics of a deal with Vacuumschmelze, or VAC, of Germany, to provide rare earth minerals and finished magnets. VAC will also build a magnet factory for GM in the United States, the site of which will be revealed next year. “In partnership with GM, VAC’s deep magnetic materials research and substantial e-mobility technology expertise will allow a cleaner worldwide future for our communities,” stated Erik Eschen, VAC’s CEO.

The two deals, according to Amin, are projected to create “hundreds” of jobs and produce enough magnets for all of GM’s future motors. GM had previously agreed to source raw minerals and final components from vendors in the United States and Canada. According to IHS Markit analyst Stephanie Brinley, “this is a major move.” It would not only lessen reliance on potentially untrustworthy trading partners such as China, but it would also lower the danger of supply chain disruptions. This year, U.S. car production has been hamstrung by a shortage of foreign-made semiconductors, resulting in barren dealer lots with billions of dollars in the lost industry income.

GM plans to phase out all diesel and gasoline-powered trucks, cars, and SUVs by 2035 and transition its whole new fleet to electric cars as part of a larger goal to be carbon free by 2040, according to the corporation.