Investment continues apace as the auto industry undergoes its transformation from being a monotechnology (combustion engines, be they spark- or compression-ignition) to one where there are alternatives. Like electric motors powered by various types of batteries, including lithium-ion based.
LG Chem announced that it will be building a $303-million factory in Holland, Michigan, a 650,000-square-foot plant to produce production volumes of batteries, with the initial output going to the GM Chevrolet Volt. The cells will be assembled in the GM plant in Brownstown, Michigan (on the east side of the state; Holland is on the west). The Volt will be assembled at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, where GM has invested $337-million.
The LG Chem plant is expected to be fully operational by 2012, and when it is fully ramped by 2013, it could employ over 400 people.
The plant will be operated by LG Chem’s North American subsidiary, Compact Power. Production volume is going to be sufficient to provide cells for 50,000 to 200,000 vehicle battery packs. (One of the reasons why there is a range is because one of the advantages of battery power is that the battery packs are scalable, as in there is the ability to add cells as needed for more power. While conventional engine plants can make, say, 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines or 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder engines, it is generally cost-prohibitive to make 4s and 8s in the same facility because of the vast differences in the tooling required. In the electric vehicle scenario, that is not the issue.)