GM's electric-vehicle battery plant expands in Tennessee and more business news

GM's electric-vehicle battery plant expands in Tennessee

Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture of LG Energy Solution and General Motors, announced Friday it will invest another $275 million to expand its Spring Hill, Tennessee, battery cell manufacturing operations.

The project is in addition to the $2.3 billion investment announced in April 2021, and is expected to create 400 additional jobs. Once the facility is fully operational, Ultium Cells is expected to employ over 1,700 workers in Maury County.

Ultium Cells will increase battery cell production by more than 40 percent, from 35 gigawatt-hours to 50 GWh. The Tennessee facility will supply battery cells to General Motors' Spring Hill assembly plant for the production of the Cadillac LYRIQ, the first electric vehicle produced at the plant, and other GM Ultium Platform-based electric vehicles. Production at the 2.8-million-square-foot facility will begin in late 2023.

The Tennessee site joins two other Ultium Cells battery cell manufacturing sites in Ohio and Michigan. The Warren, Ohio, facility began battery cell production in August, and the Lansing Delta Township facility in Michigan is under construction and will begin production in late 2024.


UAW members vote for reform candidates

Members of the United Auto Workers union appeared on Friday to favor replacing many of their current leaders in an election that stemmed from a federal bribery and embezzlement scandal involving former union officials.

Reform-minded candidates, many part of the UAW Members United slate, are leading or close in multiple key races with about 84% of the vote counted. Many challengers campaigned on rescinding concessions made to companies in previous contract talks, including cost-of-living pay raises, elimination of a two-tier wage and benefit system, and other items.

That could raise costs for Detroit's three automakers -- General Motors, Ford and Stellantis -- and almost inevitably will drive up already expensive auto prices.

With tallies from eight of nine UAW regions counted as of Friday evening, incumbent President Ray Curry had a small lead over Shawn Fain, an international union official who started at a Stellantis plant in Kokomo, Indiana, in a five-candidate race.

Curry had 38.4% of the vote, while Fain was second with 36%. There likely will be a runoff election early next year between Fain and Curry since neither had a majority of the votes.

In the race for three vice presidents, Rich Boyer and Mike Booth, both Members United candidates, are first and second in an eight-candidate field, followed by incumbent Vice President Chuck Browning. A runoff could happen there, too.


FBI director warns about TikTok app

FBI Director Chris Wray is raising national security concerns about TikTok, warning Friday that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government "that doesn't share our values."

Wray said the FBI was concerned that the Chinese had the ability to control the app's recommendation algorithm, "which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations." He also asserted that China could use the app to collect data on its users that could be used for traditional espionage operations.

"All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn't share our values, and that has a mission that's very much at odds with what's in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us," Wray told an audience at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Those concerns are similar to ones he raised during congressional appearances last month when the issue came up. And they're being voiced during ongoing dialogue in Washington about the app.

Concerned about China's influence over TikTok, the Trump administration in 2020 threatened to ban the app within the U.S. and pressured ByteDance to sell TikTok to a U.S. company. U.S. officials and the company are now in talks over a possible agreement that would resolve American security concerns, a process that Wray said was taking place across U.S. government agencies.

"As Director Wray has previously said, the FBI's input is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the U.S. Government," TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said in an emailed statement. "While we can't comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions, we are confident that we are on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns and have already made significant strides toward implementing those solutions.

— Compiled by Mike Pare