DETROIT — General Motors’ latest strategy: Give and take.
Partnerships with Honda Motor Co., electric vehicle startup Nikola Corp. and battery supplier LG Chem show GM’s willingness to share technology and manufacturing power for the mutual benefit of itself and its allies. The approach also can shave the massive costs required to become an EV leader.
GM CEO Mary Barra says the partnerships will give the automaker greater scale and drive down costs more quickly, which will be key to unlocking the EV market. Morgan Stanley predicts the Ultium batteries GM plans to make with LG Chem will be used in more than 5 million EVs annually by 2040, including more than a million non-GM vehicles.
GM has been investing in EVs and hydrogen fuel cell technology for years but so far has little to show for it in terms of sales.
“We’re going to leverage that and really seize the opportunity that we have to be able to grow in areas that, in the past, most of the traditional OEMs didn’t,” Barra said. “This is a new path, and we’re very excited.”
The tie-ups bring to mind the late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s 2015 manifesto — “Confessions of a Capital Junkie” — on the need for industry consolidation to rein in vehicle development costs as well as Carlos Ghosn’s alliance linking Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
GM’s alliances are not exactly what Marchionne and Ghosn envisioned, but they demonstrate a realization that the company doesn’t have to figure out the technologies of the future on its own while balancing investing in the profitable vehicles of today, Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey said.
“This idea that their brands are monoliths and that we have to be able to do everything ourselves is something that has hurt the industry in