It's been a long road, but the LG Chem battery plant in Holland, MI has finally started making lithium-ion batteries for the Chevy Volt. As promised, the first production packs were made in July and are currently "settling" (a process that li-ion batteries need to go through) and will be delivered to General Motors in "late September or early October," according to LG Chem spokesman Randy Boileau, who spoke with MLive.

The Holland plant was supposed to start building packs last year, but slow initial Volt sales meant it made more sense to just ship the packs from LG Chem's facilities in Korea. The company kept the Holland plant "running," though, which is what caused the problems. Despite LG Chem's denials, a US Department of Energy (DOE) audit confirmed that workers were paid to be idle, with some playing games and other volunteering for charity instead of making batteries. The reason the DOE was involved was because LG Chem received $150 million in federal funds and was also given $175 million in tax breaks. The DOE asked LG Chem to repay $842,000 of the federal stimulus grant, money that was spent on idle worker payroll.

The plant was also supposed to make batteries for the Ford Focus Electric. With the problems behind it, hopefully, LG Chem said it will increase production – activating new lines and installing two new ones – between now and late 2015.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      Dave D
      • 1 Year Ago
      And there was much rejoicing....yeeeeeaaaaayyyyy.
      l2d3b
      • 1 Year Ago
      LG is a Korean company. How come we don't have an American company getting these government handouts ?
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @l2d3b
        Who got the grants is based upon who applied for the grants, and the strength of their grant application. The nationality of the parent company was not a consideration, as long as the factory they built and the employees they hired were Americans in America.
        wmichalek
        • 1 Year Ago
        @l2d3b
        Because science and education are bad words in Baggerstan and we have to import a lot of technology.
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      @rick LOL!
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah, it's worse than what Solyndra and many other companies did, i think. I really wish the federal government would not steal money from me & you so that they can use it to invest on whatever they feel is best. Their track record is really bad. The companies from the green boom of the late 2000's that survived typically got private funding on the side. That should tell you something about who picked the winners and the losers best. But the public never learns..
      • 1 Year Ago
      I suppose it's okay for the China, Germany, and Japan to subsidize the building of plants, but not here in the good old USA. America is hell-bent on increasing the US unemployment rate in order to send money overseas to bankroll our socialist friends in China, Japan, and Germany.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        Japan's subsidization of their industry has been a waste of money for them. Does Germany really subsidize things so much ( other than wind/panels )? China will subsidize things and dump product because they make the money back later after the subsidized plants we were trying to build go belly up. It actually pays off for them and causes us to waste our money, which is great if you are China! We had a big jobs program but our economy still continues to worsen, and it added almost a trillion dollar to the debt which has not been paid back. Bush and Obama dumped tons of money into green projects but ~90% of it has gone missing, very few of the companies funded have ever produced anything, and only a few of them still remain. Do you really think our government chooses subsidies well? their recent track record is really really bad, and they don't bear the cost for their mistakes, you do.
          brotherkenny4
          • 2 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          How do you tell the difference between a libertarian and a GOPer just pretending to be libertarian because of the shame associated with Bush II? The answer, the GOPer will ignore the math and still presents anecdotal information as if it were proof.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Being a libertarian is great because you yell at both sides when they deserve to be yelled at. :-) And people cannot accuse you of being an evil (fill in the blank) because you aren't on either side.
        bkoster2
        • 1 Year Ago
        it's not quite that cut & dried...... but you do make a good point
      mociambz
      • 1 Year Ago
      how many more billions did we waste on a battery plant for a car no one is huyinng
      throwback
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'd say it is a safe bet they are not making money on the Volt. I think it was Bob Lutz who said they expected to lose money on the car initially. Not sure for how long though.
      mociambz
      • 1 Year Ago
      they gave away a 10 thousand dollar government gift to anyone that bought them and they still didn't sell
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      C'mon GM . . . build more PHEVs. The addition of the ELR is nice but we need an SUV, a pick-up truck, and a mini-van! And build some BMW's idea with a much smaller ICE engine in order to increase the electric range and/or reduce the price.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        A C-Max/Prius V/Mazda 5 class mini-mini-van would pretty much just sit right on the current Volt drive train.
          mociambz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          who would want a van for delivery that only goes 22 miles?
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          The Volt can go for 600-700 miles, or much, much more, on a tank of gas. Dear god.
        Ziv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        I sometimes wonder if the haters haven't found one small truth about the Volt, that maybe GM is not making money on them. It would explain GM's refusal to market them effectively, and their boneheaded decision to have the initial MSRP at $40.9k, and the inability of GM to get sales momentum up without shutting production down, as we saw in 2011 and again in 2012. Maybe they have realized that the Voltec line won't be profitable until they make steady progress on making the line more efficient, and they are only now starting to see the Volt as a profit making model. I am not positive that this is the case, obviously, but sometimes I wonder if that is why GM has made so many seemingly stupid moves. Maybe they are slowfooting the Volt because they know they can't build it at a profit until next year at the earliest. But if this were the case, wouldn't they have started with a Cadillac, or even a Buick, rather than a Chevy?
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      The taxpayer has only been milked for 3 years straight to produce nothing? i'd say this is doing better than the average DOE program. Great job!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        For 40 years the taxpayer has been paying for the US Navy to sit in the Persian Gulf to subsidize cheap oil. What did that produce? Take of look at the difference in wasteful spending between the DOE and DOD.
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        too funny! I especially loved the quote below. Did LG give that money back? "US Department of Energy (DOE) audit confirmed that workers were paid to be idle, with some playing games and other volunteering for charity instead of making batteries."
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        @ 2 wheeled menace It's so easy to criticize, without bothering to understand all the ramifications. The DOE provided loans and grants as an incentive to LG Chem to build a battery production facility in Michigan. LG Chem did exactly that ! In fact LG Chem tried to keep it's trained workforce on the payroll, hoping the market for it's production,( confidently predicted by the government and DOE) would eventually materialize. It retained it's skilled workforce, rather than decommission the plant, move overseas, and disperse the American workforce. It's hardly LG Chem's fault if the rapid expansion of the battery market didn't occur. But the factory was built in Michigan, and worker were employed, wasn't that an important objective of the governments incentive program ?
          brotherkenny4
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Workers would be better off working for LGChem than 2WM. He has no rational thought processes and rants like a GOPer. I guess when you live in Salt Lake the religious and moral defense of cruelty just creeps into your being.
        Joseph Wallace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        2 wheeler, actually gov does a lot of things they feel are in our best interest. Like buying up all that oil and paying to store it in reserves. No complaints about that? Btw. Don't feel bad, but my Chevy Volt is 3 times more efficient than any 2 wheeler you drive. I know this first hand. My Ninjas 250 gets 75 mpg but costs $1.10 to commute to work, while my Volt costs 0.40 cents in electricity.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joseph Wallace
          I'm not sure where the oil reserve thing gets in to this debate. Yes, government does good things, but they also do bad things. In fact, they also do a lot of things that make money go 'poof' and make people go 'poof'. As a whole, they are not a moral entity. Their only form of income is theft and counterfeiting, which are euphemized as 'taxes' and 'quantitative easing'. You do get back some of the stolen money in the form of services, but most of it goes 'poof'. This is why some of us Americans dream about the Scandinavian lifestyle - you pay into a system but you also get a lot of what you pay back. We get failed projects that amount to handouts to buddies of government, lots of war, and little social services. Makes a socialist country look good by comparison! My 2 wheelers make your volt look like a hummer, sorry.. and i didn't need to beg for a tax break or a factory to be built to make them either. Paid cash for everything. How long is your commute? I can do 20mph continuous for 40 miles for about 11 cents. I can do that same journey for about 44 cents at 40mph or 66 cents at 50mph. That is without any aerodynamic fairing whatsoever. Those figures could improve dramatically..
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joseph Wallace
          His 2 wheeler is actually much more efficient than you think. It isn't a motorcycle reference, but an electric bicycle reference. I would venture to guess that his ebike is a full order of magnitude more efficient. But you make a very good point about the oil reserves. We could save a whole lot of money by getting more drivers off of gas, and slowly selling off our strategic oil reserve. Continuing to buy more and more obsolete oil for a future oil crisis is a huge subsidy of the entire oil industry.
      Coopbbmfic3
      • 1 Year Ago
      Drill BABY DRILL
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Coopbbmfic3
        ...then ship the product abroad. We don't want the product, just the pollution, am i right?
        rick h
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Coopbbmfic3
        what about the Arkansas rain forest 5 toed tree rabbit that only eats used wax toilet rings?
      HVH20
      • 1 Year Ago
      Government conspiracy aside, look at it from a rational point of view... It takes several years and millions of dollars to set up a quality battery manufacturing plant. When this program was kicked off, the market segment was projected to be much larger than it is today. LG, Dow, and A123 all build plants in Michigan during this time. Once these plants are build, they don't automatically make less expensive cells. You need to have volumes to run the machines at capacity in order to have a business case. LG was fortunate enough to have another plant in Korea making higher volumes of cells for the rest of the world, so it makes more business sense to leverage other plants rather than fire up an entire plant to run limited volume of one car. This is a time to celebrate rather than throw stones that one of these plants is actually up and operational making commercial cells for a domestic product, that means the volumes here are increasing! A123 and Dow are not in as fortunate of positions. A123 is bankrupt and Dow has to defer paying back its loan until the market picks up.
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