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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