When GM announced at the Detroit Auto Show in January that it would build a plant to assemble battery packs for the Chevy Volt in southeast Michigan, it was noteworthy that the cells for those packs would still be coming from South Korea. While plenty of research is happening here, as with most other industries, it seemed that all the actual manufacturing was going off shore. The combination of multiple product announcements by American automakers that include lithium batteries and $2 billion in the stimulus bill targeted directly at battery manufacturing (or was it $12 million?) are causing even foreign battery companies to look at manufacturing in the U.S. In spite of recent progress, batteries remain heavy and bulky, so it makes financial sense to build the cells and packs close to where they will be put into vehicles. LG Chem, the company that supplying the Volt cells, is looking into U.S. manufacture and GM is even considering building lithium cells in-house if they can get the right amount of government money for the project. Prabhakar Patil, CEO of Compact Power, Inc. told Wards Auto World the LG Chem subsidiary would only need a commitment of 50,000 plug-in vehicles a year to justify tooling up a U.S. cell plant.

[Source: Wards Auto World]

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