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Chevy Volt Plug-In Electric Cars Now Have Battery Cells Made In U.S.

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2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

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Over the next few months, the Chevrolet Volt will get just that little bit more American--as its battery cells are now produced in the U.S.

Korean battery maker LG Chem opened a plant in Holland, Michigan two years ago, and production of lithium-ion cells for Chevy's range-extended plug-in Volt is now finally underway.

It could be a few months before Volts with Michigan-made batteries start hitting dealer lots, according to M Live--as the batteries being produced need a "settling in" period before use.

That means the first Holland-built batteries will ship in late September or early October, cars containing those batteries shortly after.

LG Chem announced in April its plans to build batteries for the Volt and Cadillac ELR at its U.S. facility, and production has started right on time.

Back in 2011, workers at the plant were furloughed as low sales meant operating the plant became uneconomical, and the facility has come under criticism for lack of production. That is now changing, and the plant will finally start contributing to the future of GM's electric vehicles.

An audit in February discovered workers being paid to sit around, play board games, watch TV and volunteer in the community--the latter a noble cause, but not quite what the government's $151 million federal stimulus grant in the plant was meant for. LG Chem was asked to repay over $840,000 of the grant following the audit.

The $300 million plant has enough capacity to fabricate cells for up to 60,000 electric-car battery packs a year, but slow initial Volt sales meant the company instead supplied cells from its South Korean facility.

That chapter is now closing as Volt sales remain steady and the ELR waits in the wings. Like the Smyrna, Tennessee-built Nissan Leaf, it's now even easier to justify buying GM's range-extended vehicles, knowing even more of the car is now built on American soil.

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Comments (9)
  1. I believe GM uses the same chemistry as Nissan, so why didn't they just buy the batteries from the plant in TN that can pump out enough batteries for all the Volts and Leafs? It would be cheaper that way. Or better yet, why didn't they switch to the 18650 cells like Tesla did before finishing that factory, the batteries are much better and last longer.
     
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  2. If I recall correctly, Nissan is ramping up battery production in the TN plant. I don't think they're anywhere near the theoretical 150,000 LEAFs per year figure they previously stated, so they don't have the excess capacity to sell even if they wanted to.
     
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  3. You don't just plop different cells in a car willy-nilly; the battery/platform configuration is part of the overall extensive engineering and development of the product.

    The Volt's cells came from LG Chem in Korea; they are assembled into packs at GM's Brownstown plant in Michigan and are then sent to the assembly plant in Detroit for final assembly. The Ford Focus Electric uses the same cells.

    Compact Power (LG Chem's US arm) had difficulty getting the new plant up and running due to lower-than-expected demand. Now it's in production, and it would make no sense whatsoever to switch horses mid stream. In addition, they very likely have long-term supply contracts with Compact Power that have to be honored.
     
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  4. I might be wrong but I believe Nissan uses an manganite chemistry and LG Chem uses a nickel ,manganite, cobalt chemistry.
     
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  5. There are more comments in this thread
  6. "It could be a few months before Volts with Michigan-made batteries start hitting dealer lots, according to M Live--as the batteries being produced need a "settling in" period before use.

    That means the first Holland-built batteries will ship in late September or early October, cars containing those batteries shortly after."

    Thus the headline is wrong.
     
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