GM to Fire Up Battery Plant This Week, a First for U.S. Automakers

19 Comments

We’re just two days away from a major milestone in the U.S. electric vehicle industry. When General Motors (s GM) fires up its battery pack assembly plant in Brownstown Township, Mich., on Jan. 7, the automaker says it will mark the first time a major U.S. automaker has operated a battery pack factory here in the States.

GM sent out a press advisory this morning saying it will start production Thursday morning, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre are scheduled to attend the launch.

As GM notes in its release, the event is scheduled to take place “exactly three years to the day” from when the automaker revealed the concept for the Chevy Volt. During that time — mostly in the year or so since federal stimulus funds started opening up for battery manufacturing — the race to secure financing and set up plants to manufacture plug-in vehicle batteries in the U.S. has heated up. (We’ve mapped the green car battery buildout here.)

More than 100 companies lined up for billions of dollars in federal grants and state incentive packages designed to help spur these domestic efforts. Firms based in China, Japan, and South Korea currently dominate the market for lithium-ion batteries, and the Obama administration has sought to help shift that balance. As demand grows beyond mobile devices and laptops for advanced battery technologies to increasing numbers of plug-in and hybrid vehicles, there’s an opportunity for players in the U.S. to either enter the game or expand their role.

For the Volt battery packs, GM will be using cells from Korean battery giant LG Chem’s Compact Power, but it has emphasized over the last year that developing battery pack technology and assembling the packs in-house will be a core competence that gives the automaker a competitive edge in the electric marketplace.

19 Comments

David Stone

All this “Importing the expensive batteries is the same as exchanging oil with lithium, with the US still enslaved to buy them.” – type stuff is really getting annoying.

  • Batteries are different to oil; they are not burnt and destroyed. They are used for years instead of seconds and then can be recycled.
  • Lithium itself is not a battery. Lithium deposits are where they are in the world, just like oil.
  • The US would NOT be enslaved to buy them, anymore than it is to buy oil. Each person chooses to buy it, the main reason being because it seems cheap. Any slavery to buying it is self-imposed.
  • Even if it were true, it wouldn’t be a disadvantage. At least with batteries, the possibility exists to make them, unlike oil. Along with pollution reduction, two big advantages.
  • Many battery factories in other countries are run with american money, making them as american as a Ford-plant in europe, which is one of many ‘american’ companies with many non-american owners (shareholders).
  • As long as unions in the west continue to demand more wages than the workers’ labor is worth (getting as opposed to earning) and believe in ‘I work, therefore I own the company too’, manufacturing will go elsewhere, even for product for the home market, where the same westerners demand everything should cost little, with no understanding for true cost, including fair wages.
eebaghead

What happened to EESTor’s working relation with GM?
GM must have not received an EESU production line prototype from EESCAM in 2009…. just like Zenn, DOE, DOD, NASA and CIA have not received anything from EESCAM but BS the last six years.

I believe in miracles but not in EESCAM!

owlafaye

Rhodomet seems to want a solution as soon as the problem appears, otherwise it is the government’s fault and short-sightedness.

Lithium-ion battery production facilities cannot be built nor the technology developed, overnight.

Great advances are being made in all related fields but I don’t think “instant” batteries will come in a $1.49 zip lock bag anytime soon.

Rhodomel

Making battery pack is good news and deserved billion dollar funding from DOE? Making batteries and along with the packs should go hand in hand together for better manufacturing efficiency. It is the batteries that is the major bottleneck when it comes to cost, and it should be priority for manufacturing.

We should manufacture the batteries and the packs here in the USA. Importing the expensive batteries is the same as exchanging oil with lithium, with the US still enslaved to buy them. You can say that this is better than nothing, but who are the other non-GM affiliated automotive companies that would buy GM’s battery packs?

GM (Government Motors), we are not stupid and we want our taxpayers money back!

Comments are closed.