ExxonMobil Bets on Electric Vehicles

Nov. 14, 2023
The world’s largest energy producer, and the No. 1 company on the IndustryWeek U.S. 500 List of the largest manufacturing companies in the country, plans to drill for lithium-rich saltwater in Arkansas.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? Global oil and gas giant ExxonMobil plans to start drilling for lithium, the primary material in electric vehicle batteries, in Arkansas with production expected to begin in 2027.

“Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. Ammann joined ExxonMobil in mid-2022 following a 10-year career at General Motors that included a 5-year stint as the automaker’s president and three years as CEO of Cruise, GM’s troubled autonomous vehicle division.

Even with EV demand growth slowing in the third quarter, automakers are rushing dozens of new EVs to market, driving up demand for batteries and battery chemicals. Exxon officials said they expand demand to quadruple for the light metal by 2030.

ExxonMobil plans to drill for the metal, not mine it. Earlier this year, it bought mineral rights to the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas where geologists believe underwater saltwater deposits contain tons of lithium. ExxonMobil plans to pump the water out of the ground, filter out the lithium and send the saltwater back into underground reservoirs.

About the Author

Robert Schoenberger


LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/robert-schoenberger-4326b810

Bio: Robert Schoenberger has been writing about manufacturing technology in one form or another since the late 1990s. He began his career in newspapers in South Texas and has worked for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland where he spent more than six years as the automotive reporter. In 2014, he launched Today's Motor Vehicles (now EV Manufacturing & Design), a magazine focusing on design and manufacturing topics within the automotive and commercial truck worlds. He joined IndustryWeek in late 2021.

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