Stellantis NV, the renowned automotive manufacturer behind brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, has made a strategic investment of more than $100 million in a geothermal lithium venture in the state of California. The ambitious project is being pursued in collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources Holdings Inc., a leading energy firm. Stellantis’ decision to boost its investment stems from the increasing global demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and the concomitant need for reliable supplies of battery materials such as lithium.
Last year, Stellantis had entered into a binding 10-year agreement with Controlled Thermal Resources, whereby the latter would supply lithium hydroxide monohydrate, a crucial ingredient in EV batteries, beginning in 2027. However, in light of increasing market demands, Stellantis has now extended the scope of this agreement to augment its expected annual lithium intake from 27,558 tons (25,000 metric tons) to an impressive 71,650 tons (65,000 metric tons), to be sourced from the Hell’s Kitchen project.
The automotive industry is currently grappling with concerns about potential shortages of essential battery materials due to the accelerated ramp-up of EV production. In this context, Stellantis’ investment in securing a steady supply of lithium, a critical resource for EV batteries, is seen as a strategic move. The automaker is looking to unveil more than 25 all-electric models by the year 2030, with plans for these vehicles to account for over half of its total sales in the U.S. market.
CTR CEO Rod Colwell emphasized the importance of responsible sourcing and production of battery materials in light of the surging EV adoption rates both in the U.S. and globally. He highlighted that by localizing the battery supply chain, the industry can not only minimize supply chain risks but also generate thousands of job opportunities in disadvantaged communities.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares previously indicated that the automaker has secured adequate battery materials to meet its production requirements up to 2027. Additionally, the company recently revealed plans to establish a third battery production facility in North America, slated to commence operations in 2027.
The Hell’s Kitchen project, helmed by CTR, is expected to yield 330,693 tons (300,000 metric tons) of lithium hydroxide annually. Remarkably, the project aims to recover lithium from Salton Sea geothermal brines using renewable energy and stream processing methods. This innovative approach eliminates the need for traditional evaporation brine ponds, open pit mines, and fossil fuel-powered lithium processing, positioning it as an environmentally sustainable initiative. Stellantis is targeting to achieve carbon net-zero status by 2038.
Carlos Tavares, in a statement, emphasized that low-emissions production and sustainable supply chains are integral to Stellantis’ industry-leading decarbonization efforts. He added that the expanded agreement with CTR was an important step in their journey to provide clean, safe, and affordable mobility solutions in North America.
Last year, General Motors Co. was the inaugural automaker to make a multi-million-dollar investment in the Hell’s Kitchen project, thereby securing first rights to the lithium produced in the initial phase of the project.