Despite rising Chevrolet Volt sales – September was the second record sales month in a row – not all is well in Volt productionville. According to local TV news reports, the Western Michigan LG Chem plant that makes the battery packs for GM's plug-in hybrid does not have enough work to keep all of its workers busy.

WOOD TV 8 recently reported from the scene (video available below) and talked to LG Chem workers and ex-workers about the card games being played, the movies being watched and the lack of batteries being made. "As much as they want to work, there's nothing to do," the report says.

For months now, up to 40 workers "would just sit in there during the day," one former employee said. "It's really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it's basically on taxpayer money."

When the plant in Holland, MI was officially announced in 2010, LG Chem was clear that there would be a training period. Specifically, the company said it "estimates that over 400 jobs could be created by 2013 and many of the people will be hired and trained in advance of the plant being operational." Thanks in part to a $151-million grant from the Recovery Act, LG Chem hired 100 of the 200 workers at the plant. Some of them now say they are furloughed for one out of every four weeks and haven't made a single cell for a production Volt. In WOOD TV 8's words, the workers, "say the last of the materials needed to make battery cells, including chemicals, was shipped back to Korea.... Workers say they made test battery cells, starting late last year, perhaps 100,000 or more, and that they did a good job. They say they produced perhaps 4,000 a week. But, they say, that worked ended for the most part last December."

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees the federal stimulus program, told WOOD TV 8 it would look into the situation. WOOD TV 8 was not able to reach anyone in an official plant capacity and emails from AutoblogGreen to GM and LG Chem were not returned by press time.

*UPDATE: A GM spokesman told AutoblogGreen, "we don't routinely comment on our suppliers' operations."


Volt no jolt: LG Chem employees idle



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not surprising. Why anyone thought cells would be made here when it's cheaper to make them overseas I don't know.
        brotherkenny4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Yes, I agree with you, Americans are failures at everything that involves real work.
        taser it
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Shipping costs: as Li-ion batteries are considered hazardous.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @taser it
          They are hazardous because of the materials inside them. Unless you think the electrolyte is being made in Holland, Michigan, there isn't a big shipping danger difference between making cells in the US or overseas.
      usbseawolf2000
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does it mean Volt buyers are sending jobs and money to Korea?
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @usbseawolf2000
        Yes. It does. However, the domestic content has been printed on the sticker of the car from day 1, like any other car. If you care about the domestic content you had already seen the info on the sticker. The only way you wouldn't have already known about the content level is if you didn't care enough about content to read the sticker.
        RoyEMunson
        • 2 Years Ago
        @usbseawolf2000
        Compared to someone buying a Hyundai built in the US? The Volt was designed by GM in the US and is built in GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility which is located in the US. You knew that, right? Sure, the battery cells are manufactured in South Korea and the electric motor is sourced from Japan. Im sure you are trying to insinuate otherwise but a majority of the money stays in the US. Sorry to rain on your parade.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 2 Years Ago
          @RoyEMunson
          A123 System workers are probably looking for work to earn their income.
        brotherkenny4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @usbseawolf2000
        And when they buy gas they send money to the Saudis, and even worse, the crazy cannucks. Those volt drivers are screwing us two ways, with foreign batteries and foreign oil.
      ebn.hahn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Volt selling 50K a year!!??. No way Jose. Most Volts are sold to fleets and government agencies as a way for Obama to help GM look good (the Volt). The rest are being Leased for about $250/month....... Nobody is purchasing volts... If you can lease for less than a Ford Fiesta!!! why should take a chance and purchase one...
        Sir Duke
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ebn.hahn
        Most Volts are not sold to Fleets, or government agencies. I wish they were. When you start a conversation with a BLATANT lie, you have no credibility the rest of the way.
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ebn.hahn
        Almost everything you typed is wrong. Try again.
      Roy_H
      • 2 Years Ago
      The initial expectations were that the Volt would sell in higher numbers, and justify the plant production. This in turn was supposed to significantly lower the price of the batteries and the Volt. Is this a chicken and egg problem? Volts would sell in much higher numbers if the price was closer to the original target of $30k, then the cost would go down as efficiencies of mass production kicked in.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Roy_H
        @ Roy_H Unfortunately, not enough to justify the losses. Hopefully, GM will extend Voltec technology to other models in the GM stable and provide more demand for these batteries.
          brotherkenny4
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          No losses. The Volt could be profitable at 30K. You make the same mislead that Reuters did. But they gave out the numbers, and if correct (GM did not deny) then the Volt is profitable at 30K now and probably 25K in the future.
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      For the past year, GM has been telling us Volt sales are up and doing well. So, where's all the battery coming from? More likely, Volt is in trouble. GM is in trouble, again.
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        The current batteries come from South Korea (hello, LG Chem). Volt sales are increasing steadily for the last several months. All indicators are that Oct/Nov/Dec will be at least 2500-3000 sales per month (helped by being close to the end of the year for the $7500 tax credits).
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Levine Levine Although, only a pale imitation of the late, unlamented DF, you are are close to being a winner in ABG's, Most Miserable Troll, contest. !
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        I assure you from evidence with my own two eyes, Volt sales are up. Way up. I used to see one a week, now I see five a day. GM is not lying to you about how many batteries they are using.
      Turbo Froggy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why would this capacity be idle at all? Attention GM: Send more Volts to dealers in California. Build them as fast as you can and send them to dealers who sell them. Stop sending them to dealers who are not selling them and for the love of pete stop making so GD many Silverado pickups. Build more Volts, build them faster, build them build them build them. There are 300,000+ Silverado pickups on lots, that is enough. Halt Silverado production ASAP and build more Volts.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Turbo Froggy
        @Froggy: "Why would this capacity be idle at all? " LG Chem can build 4000 batteries per week. GM can build 1000 Volt per week. It doesn't take a genius to see that battery pack will always outpace Volt production until GM can sell the Volt in much larger volumes.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Turbo Froggy
        This is LG Chem, not GM. LG Chem has chosen to supply their batteries from overseas instead of building them in the US. This isn't GM's choice to make and even if GM were to increase Volt production there's no guarantee LG Chem wouldn't continue to supply all the batteries from overseas.
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Exactly. The article title is a little sensational. This is the same factory that will be building the Ford lithium batteries for the Focus EV, and Energi twins. Hardly GM's fault here.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          If GM pick A123 as the supplier for Volt battery, those jobs would be in the US.
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      I bet they play a mean game of poker by now, would not like to be a newbie in that card skool.
      2000NSX
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tesla is doing great. The A123 deal was sweat for Johnson Controls. They bought A123 for $125 million and A123 still has $125 million to draw in grants from the state of MI. It is like Johnson got A123 for free.
        Dave R
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2000NSX
        JCI doesn't have A123 yet. Rumor has it that the Chinese company wants to put in a higher bid...
      Ashton
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good thing Obama gave them all that money, so they can sit on their butts and watch movies on my dime...I hope they enjoyed some good ol' taxpayer bought popcorn with it! I'm hoping a lawsuit is forthcoming...but more then likely its just another failed "green" company. Man, it seems like nearly everything "green" that got money is doing horrible...I don't get it, usually when people/company gets a ton of money they spend it soo wisely. s/ Bottom line, The market dictates who lives and who dies...NOT WASHINGTON.
        RoyEMunson
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashton
        ".but more then likely its just another failed "green" company." Considering the forum, that statement sends up red flags. I dont go to your blogs and leave troll droppings in the comment threads, perhaps you should return the favor, no? If you insist on posting, at least get you facts straight.
        onyerleft
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashton
        Without getting into all the things you do on the government's dime, I'll admit you're correct - Washington doesn't dictate who lives or dies. For example, when the Pentagon awards $63B for F22 fighters that's not Washington. It's Arlington, VA.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashton
        LG Chem is not doing horribly. Not at all. They've been around a long time and sell a lot of batteries.
          Dave R
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Yep, I don't see LG Chem going anywhere. The loan will be paid back with interest regardless of whether or not the plant ever starts pushing production cells.
        LEONARD
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashton
        what money did we give to LG Chem ????
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Years Ago
          @LEONARD
          The factory cost $303M. LG Chem received a $151.4M federal grant, a $100 million state tax credit and a 15-year job-creation $25.2M state tax credit. Total $276.6M. http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x99745911/LG-battery-plant-coming-to-Holland?zc_p=1
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashton
        A lawsuit? Against whom?
        American Refugee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashton
        Two out of the 27 companies that have received grants under the green energy program have gone into bankruptcy. The rest are paying back their loans, with interest. In the long run these programs will make money for taxpayers, either directly or through increased taxes through economic growth. Flown on a plane lately? You probably did so on a plane whose parts were pressed on a heavy press built by government mandate: http://boingboing.net/2012/02/13/machines.html Every government on the planet seeks to give their industries a leg up, knowing that the return on investment is solid in the long run. Yes, some money is lost in such investments. But the internet you are posting on was a government project. Only in America is there this insane ideology that posits some kind of "pure" market, unsullied by the nasty, dirty touch of big, bad government. It's an act of faith, this ideology. Not an act of reason.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      LG Chem can make 4000 batteries a week, which translates into something like 200,000 annually. Volt will sell something like 40,000 this year. Maybe 50k or 60k next year. Not surprising that the batteries outpace the car.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The factory is in Western Michigan, so how come some comments say the batteries come from South Korea? LG is South Korean but the factory is in the U.S. The factory should be able to switch between making multiple types of batteries so that when they've fulfilled a specific order they can switch to another order. If workers truly are idle then the management is failing. In that case, the incentives the government has created should be retooled to take into account production and discourage unproductive labor.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        You need to read the article again. No batteries have been supplied from this plant. Management isn't failing, the company has excess capacity and so they have chosen to idle this plant. All the batteries being used in Volts are indeed coming from South Korea because this plant is idle. I don't know that the government can just change the incentives. They entered into a contract with LG Chem. Unless LG Chem violates the contract, the government has to pay.
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