LG Chem finally begins battery production


LG Chem Michigan in Holland is now producing commercial lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

The company, which has had a series of setbacks that have delayed the start of full production, was set to begin in September when it learned it did not have federal Environmental Protection Agency approval to use one of the chemicals it requires in its manufacturing process.

“In early September, the company made the decision to pause production,” Jeremy Hagemeyer, LG Chem human resources manager and spokesperson, told the Business Journal.

“We have been notified of the approved registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are satisfied that we are in compliance with the EPA’s materials registration requirements.

“We are now looking forward to the first shipments of product to our customer, which we expect will take place in November,” said Hagemeyer.

Early this year, the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed that LG Chem Michigan had to refund $842,189 to the federal government for what DOE said was “questionable labor costs” during one quarter of 2012. Employees who were on the payroll had little or no actual work to do involving the production of batteries for electric cars.

In early 2010, the company, a division of LG Chem of South Korea, was awarded a grant of slightly more than $150 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the DOE to cover half the cost of building a $304 million battery cell manufacturing plant in Holland. The plant was expected to create more than 440 jobs, and production was supposed to begin in 2012.

By the end of 2013, it is supposed to produce enough lithium-ion polymer batteries for 60,000 electric vehicles a year.

Production did not begin as scheduled because there was lower than expected demand for the Chevrolet Volt, which is LG Chem Michigan’s primary customer.

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