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Obama Speaking in Michigan Republican Country

Not surprisingly, DOE releases a report on the positive impact of advanced vehicle spending ahead of the President’s speech.

by on Jul.15, 2010

The Administration, of course, faces difficult mid-term elections because of the economy.

On the eve of President Obama’s campaign trip today to Holland in Republican dominated western Michigan, the Department of Energy issued a report on the positive economic effects of the Administration’s spending on advanced batteries and vehicles.

The study “Recovery Act Investments: Transforming America’s Transportation Sector,” not surprisingly, claims to show how Recovery Act funds are creating new jobs.

U.S. unemployment at about 10% (reported, not actual) remains at levels not seen in at least four decades, as the Great Recession continues unabated. Michigan is particularly hard hit with a seasonally adjusted figure for June at 13.2% of its workers on the street. Critics maintain that the real number of people unemployed in Michigan is closer to 20%. Michigan has had the honor of  producing the nation’s highest unemployment rate for four straight years now.

The Administration, of course, faces difficult mid-term elections because of a stalled economy, high unemployment, and soaring deficits, among other liabilities, real or imagined by increasingly hostile opponents. The sight Obama is speaking at won’t be operational for two years, and in the interim Korean-made battery cells will be imported for use in Chevy and Ford electric vehicles that taxpayers are helping to underwrite.

Obama will be  saying that the construction of  new plants, the addition of new manufacturing lines, as well as the installation of electric vehicle charging stations across the country are helping to build an emerging “domestic” electric vehicle industry from the ground up.

Sound Bites or Sound Policy?

The Administration is spending your (borrowed) tax dollars on a broad portfolio of advanced vehicle technologies hoping that the monies, which, to be fair, are matched by private funds, will ultimately rebuild the “domestic”  auto industry.

Obama will apparently claim that these investments are “driving down the costs associated with electric vehicles and expanding the domestic market.” A proposition that remains to be seen.


Obama to Visit Michigan Battery Plant That Will Now Supply Both GM and Ford EVs.

Ford signs up LG Chem’s Compact Power subsidiary as new battery supplier.

by on Jul.14, 2010

Power to the People? President Barack Obama will visit Michigan to press for more battery production.

President Obama will be charging through Michigan Thursday, stopping in Holland to mark the groundbreaking of the new LG Chem battery plant that will begin supplying lithium-ion packs to the nation’s two largest domestic automakers in 2012.

The Korean-owned plant, scheduled to be one of the first in this country to produce the basic lithium-ion cells for battery vehicles like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt will also produce batteries for Ford’s upcoming Focus Electric model, that automaker announced Tuesday.

Obama’s visit will be more than the classic political meet-and-greet session.  The president will use his visit to the site of the LG Chem plant to focus on his administration’s efforts to expand the production and sales of plug-in hybrids, pure battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and other battery-based cars, trucks and crossover.

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For his part, the president is calling for the auto industry to be selling 1 million plug-ins, extended-range electric vehicles (the proper description of the Volt) and battery-electric vehicles by 2015.

While skeptics warn the technology is likely to remain expensive and limited in application for more than a decade to come, proponents insist that costs will come down –while consumer demand should rise — as manufacturers ramp up production of both batteries and battery vehicles.  Though LG Chem’s facility is still two years from production, as many as four high-volume lithium-ion factories are expected to be operating by year’s end, including one in Indianapolis supplying the Norwegian-based Think!, which plans to produce its 2-seat City minicar in Elkhart, Indiana.


LG Chem To Set Up Michigan Battery Plant

Will produce batteries for up to 200,000 electric vehicles.

by on Mar.12, 2010

The basic battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt will soon be produced in Michigan, not Korea.

Korea’s LG Chem will invest $303 million to set up a plant in Western Michigan to produce enough lithium-ion batteries to power as many as 200,000 electric vehicles annually.

The primary customer for the LIon technology will be General Motors, which last year chose LG Chem to provide batteries for the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, or E-REV, which GM plans to put into production this coming November.  But the size of the new plant, which will be built in Holland, Michigan, suggests LG could seek other customers, as well.

The announcement is significant for several reasons.  As part of the partnership they formed last year, GM and LG Chem set up a plant in suburban Detroit to assemble battery packs for the Volt, but the basic cells used in those packs have been coming from LG’s plants in the Far East.

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Until now, the bulk of lithium-ion production has been based in Asia, primarily Japan, China and South Korea.  But with the auto industry ramping up plans for new battery cars – and with the Obama Administration offerings billions of dollars in loans and grants – production is begin to expand in the United States.