DETROIT – General Motors said Wednesday that a new electric vehicle battery plant built in Ohio has begun producing cells, which could help customers qualify for federal tax credits.

The joint venture plant near Warren, Ohio, is focused on training as it prepares to ramp up manufacturing. A company spokeswoman said it was producing cells but not yet shipping them. They will go in vehicles equipped with GM’s Ultium batteries, which currently include Hummer EVs, Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup trucks and the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV.

Eventually, however, the plant is expected to help GM’s electric vehicles meet the requirements for a federal tax credit of $7,500 per vehicle.

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Under the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, electric vehicles and their batteries must be manufactured in North America to earn the credit. Battery minerals must also be mined or recycled on the mainland, otherwise half of the tax credit would be lost. And the batteries can’t have components from China, another tough hurdle.

The requirements are designed to build a North American supply chain for electric vehicles so that the country is not dependent on China and other overseas countries.

GM says it is working to meet the requirements. The Ohio plant built with battery maker LG Energy Solution is a step toward securing the credits, which are key to boosting sales of electric vehicles. No automaker wants to market electric vehicles that cost $7,500 more than the competition.

The $2.3 billion, 2.8 million square foot battery plant now employs 800 people and will eventually have 1,300. The plant is near Lordstown, Ohio, where GM shut down a huge small car assembly plant.

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GM aims to make only electric passenger vehicles by 2035, and CEO Mary Barra has pledged to overthrow Tesla as the top seller of electric vehicles by the middle of this decade.

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