It's been a long road, but the LG Chem battery plant in Holland, MI has finally started making lithium-ion batteries for the Chevy Volt. As promised, the first production packs were made in July and are currently "settling" (a process that li-ion batteries need to go through) and will be delivered to General Motors in "late September or early October," according to LG Chem spokesman Randy Boileau, who spoke with MLive.
The Holland plant was supposed to start building packs last year, but slow initial Volt sales meant it made more sense to just ship the packs from LG Chem's facilities in Korea. The company kept the Holland plant "running," though, which is what caused the problems. Despite LG Chem's denials, a US Department of Energy (DOE) audit confirmed that workers were paid to be idle, with some playing games and other volunteering for charity instead of making batteries. The reason the DOE was involved was because LG Chem received $150 million in federal funds and was also given $175 million in tax breaks. The DOE asked LG Chem to repay $842,000 of the federal stimulus grant, money that was spent on idle worker payroll.
The plant was also supposed to make batteries for the Ford Focus Electric. With the problems behind it, hopefully, LG Chem said it will increase production – activating new lines and installing two new ones – between now and late 2015.