It looks like the last hand's been played at those reputed card games that not-so-busy employees at LG Chem's lithium-ion battery factory in Michigan were playing. The South Korean company is planning to start production of batteries for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in in July, with the first batteries rolling off the factory's three assembly lines by end of summer, the Detroit Free Press reports. US Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) is using the announcement to call the partially government-backed factory a "flawed program," MLive says.
And the gentleman has a point. The factory broke ground in 2010 and about half of its $300-million cost was bankrolled by the US government. Volt battery orders came in slower than expected, though, so by last fall, many of the workers were being paid not to work, and production was at a standstill, according to a February audit by the US Department of Energy. LG Chem was ordered to repay the Feds $842,000 in funds reputedly used to pay workers who weren't doing anything productive. LG Chem admitted that the plant is taking longer than expected to actually, you know, make a battery, releasing a statement six months ago that said, "taxpayer money has not been wasted, because when the market demand justifies production, the facility will be utilized." It appears that time is almost here.