In Holland, Michigan, an LG Chem plant sits idle [again], in spite of the demand for the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR traction batteries that it was built to produce.
It seemed that everything was going the right way for LG Chem and Chevy Volt. Unlike failed battery manufacturer A123 Systems, who was slated to build advanced lithium-ion battery packs for the Chevy Spark EV and failed Fisker Automotive, LG Chem didn’t start building too soon or work itself into debt. Still, the Department of Energy [DOE] wasn’t particularly thrilled when it found out that LG was paying workers to stay onsite, in spite of the fact that production hadn’t begun. The DOE demanded $842,000 back from the company, but didn’t demand the entire $150 million in loans or $175 million in tax breaks.
In May, we were happy to report that LG Chem in Holland, Michigan, would finally begin production of Chevy Volt, as well as the upcoming Cadillac ELR, traction batteries in July. This is good news, since Chevy Volt sales have been steadily rising. Finally, progress, but sadly, it seems to be on hold again, this time due to EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] compliance. Granted, battery production is a very complicated business, making use of chemicals and compounds that are strictly monitored by the EPA, but shouldn’t all of this have been fleshed out when the plant was built or before July, when production was slated to begin? Interestingly, it wasn’t the EPA who called for LG Chem to stop production, but LG Chem itself.
According to LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer, “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. 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 six weeks until we have confirmed the registration status or otherwise obtain approval from EPA.”