After receiving over $150 million in federal funds and $175 million in tax breaks, the LG Chem/GM Chevy Volt battery plant in Holland, MI was set to begin production this month after several, long delays. Now, however, the LG Chem plant has announced that they are stopping production for up to six weeks because a compound used in that production apparently had not been registered for use in manufacturing with the EPA.
It should be noted that the EPA didn’t step in to halt production, but that the company self-policed this one. “We discovered the possibility that this material may not be properly registered and made the decision to pause our production until we have that question resolved,” explained LG spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer. “We are currently reviewing the registration status and will work with the EPA to resolve the issue quickly. In the meanwhile, we are delaying production activities for approximately 6 weeks until we have confirmed the registration status or otherwise obtain approval from EPA.”
The LG factory is supposed to be making Chevy Volt batteries, but after several “false starts” it was discovered that all the workers at the plant were idle, and the DOE stepped in and asked for 842,000 of its dollars – money that was spent on idle worker payroll – back. As a start.
Despite soaring plug-in car sales throughout 2013 and the fact that GM will soon start selling its Cadillac ELR (old) ladykiller coupe, which uses the same batteries as the Chevy Volt, it doesn’t appear as if the factory’s production capacity is sorely missed. Still, Hagemeyer insists that, for now, there would be no layoffs. LG employees will be engaged in continuous factory improvement projects, training, and in “maintaining readiness” (whatever that means). “We view this as a temporary issue,” says Hagemeyer, “and are very confident that we will proceed with production soon.”
General Motors has not commented on the battery production shutdown.