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Business

LG Readies Battery Plant

by Melody M. Bomgardner
May 13, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 19

LG Chem Michigan says it will begin long-delayed production in July at its automotive lithium-ion battery cell plant in Holland, Mich. The business, a U.S. arm of South Korea’s LG Chem, will supply batteries for General Motors’ Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid. In 2010 the Michigan plant was awarded more than $150 million in funding from the Department of Energy and tax relief from state and local governments worth up to $175 million. Battery cell assembly was supposed to begin in 2012, and the plant was expected to employ 440 workers. But demand for the batteries was slow, and LG instead supplied GM from its factory in South Korea. In January, LG paid back $842,000 of the DOE grant after a governmentaudit found that it had used the money to pay workers who “had little work to do and were spending time volunteering at local nonprofit organizations, playing games, and watching movies.” LG Chem says it has set up three of five planned production lines at the site and is planning to attract more electric-vehicle business in the U.S. In 2012, GM sold 23,461 Volts, up from 7,671 in 2011.

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