The question of where consumer goods are made has become more prominent in our political discourse of late, cars among them.
Every automobile sold in the U.S. carries a listing of content sources, specifying what percentage by value of its overall content comes from which countries or regions.
Electric cars, it turns out, have some anomalies.
DON'T MISS: 2014 Nissan Leaf Domestic Content: Now Closer To Volt, Focus Electric (Mar 2014)
Three years ago, digging into the domestic content of the Nissan Leaf, which is assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee, with lithium-ion battery cells from the same source, we learned that value can be tricky.
While the Leaf's cells were assembled in a high-tech plant adjacent to the Smyrna car factory, the rolls of electrode film inside those cells was still imported from Japan.
Electrode material turns out to be high-value stuff, meaning that the 2014 Leaf had 35 percent of its content from the U.S. and Canada, but still 40 percent listed as originating in Japan.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Last week, LG Electronics said it planned to open a 250,000-square-foot factory for "advanced electric vehicle components" in Hazel Park, Michigan, about 12 miles north of downtown Detroit.
The plant will start production next year, LG said, and total about 300 jobs between production and R&D, but it did not specify what kind of components will be developed and manufactured there
The Detroit region has hundreds of supplier plants, but we suspect we may have an idea where at least some of the new plant's output may be headed.
READ THIS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV Development: GM, LG Chem Reveal Deep Partnership (Oct 2015)
Hazel Park, it turns out, is just 7 miles from the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, and it's less than 30 miles south of that company's Orion Assembly Plant.
That factory builds the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and it will likely also assemble a future all-electric small Buick crossover utility vehicle expected to arrive in 2019 or 2020.
You may recall that the Bolt EV was developed within an unusually deep partnership between LG and General Motors.
LG VP Ken Chang on GM-LG Chem partnership on Bolt EV electric car [photo: Jeffrey Sauger for GM]
Not only does LG Chem produce the lithium-ion battery cells at its plant in Holland, Michigan, but a different unit of the Korean company, LG Electronics, manufactures the dashboard touchscreen and numerous other electronic components.
GM said it embarked on the unprecedented deep partnership with LG for joint development of an electric car—announced way back in August 2011—as a way to speed the car to market, reduce risk, and cut costs.
LG's press release said it will invest about $25 million in the new Michigan plant, and specifically called out a "successful collaboration with General Motors on the popular Chevrolet Bolt EV" as a factor contributing to LG's continued growth in the U.S.
CHECK OUT: Bolt EV Powertrain: How Did GM And LG Collaborate On Design, Production? (Feb 2016)
So whether it's electrode film for battery cells (we'd expect that to be made by LG Chem, not LG Electronics) or other components that go into the Bolt EV and future GM electric cars, we're betting it helps their North American content percentages.
To be fair, LG's output could also be destined for another maker's products: its cells are also used in the Ford Focus Electric, for instance.
But if we had to lay money on it, we'd bet on GM as the likely biggest customer.