Despite rising Chevrolet Volt sales – September was the second record sales month in a row – not all is well in Volt productionville. According to local TV news reports, the Western Michigan LG Chem plant that makes the battery packs for GM's plug-in hybrid does not have enough work to keep all of its workers busy.
WOOD TV 8 recently reported from the scene (video available below) and talked to LG Chem workers and ex-workers about the card games being played, the movies being watched and the lack of batteries being made. "As much as they want to work, there's nothing to do," the report says.
For months now, up to 40 workers "would just sit in there during the day," one former employee said. "It's really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it's basically on taxpayer money."
When the plant in Holland, MI was officially announced in 2010, LG Chem was clear that there would be a training period. Specifically, the company said it "estimates that over 400 jobs could be created by 2013 and many of the people will be hired and trained in advance of the plant being operational." Thanks in part to a $151-million grant from the Recovery Act, LG Chem hired 100 of the 200 workers at the plant. Some of them now say they are furloughed for one out of every four weeks and haven't made a single cell for a production Volt. In WOOD TV 8's words, the workers, "say the last of the materials needed to make battery cells, including chemicals, was shipped back to Korea.... Workers say they made test battery cells, starting late last year, perhaps 100,000 or more, and that they did a good job. They say they produced perhaps 4,000 a week. But, they say, that worked ended for the most part last December."
The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees the federal stimulus program, told WOOD TV 8 it would look into the situation. WOOD TV 8 was not able to reach anyone in an official plant capacity and emails from AutoblogGreen to GM and LG Chem were not returned by press time.
*UPDATE: A GM spokesman told AutoblogGreen, "we don't routinely comment on our suppliers' operations."